In an attempt to create a chilling interpretation of the much-loved children’s classic Peter Pan, Lost Boy has indeed lost the boy the world grew to love in JM Barrie’s magical creation.
The concept is good, with the lost boys of the war led to a death that need not have been inevitable and the innocent images of the boy who never grew up are a stark contrast to the harsh realities of war that claimed the real-life Peter Pan in every family. It is poorly executed, however, with adult versions of all the characters crammed in and an opening act that simply requires too much work.
The show begins with Captain George Llewellyn Davis (Steven Butler), adopted son of Barrie, on the eve of a World War I battle in 1914, but soon escapes to his dreams as Peter Pan, where Wendy, John, Michael and the lost boys have all grown up. In Phil Willmott’s endeavour to continue the tale, Pan is forced to age in his awfully big adventure to become a man for Wendy (Grace Gardner).
This alternative take on Peter Pan sees Michael (Joseph Taylor) as a gay trapeze artist, John (Richard James-King) as a advocator of Jung’s analysis of dreams and a pole-dancing Tinkerbell (Joanna Woodward) as a lady of the night whose fairy-sized heart is too small for her body. Despite insightful visions of the characters and a stronger second act, the disjointed attempt at bringing together all the familiar characters and interspersing Llewellyn Davis is inescapable.
The aging Pan is a far cry from the childhood innocence of the boy we know and love, and while Butler does well to inject a few of the characteristics associated with him, it is his scenes as Llewellyn Davis that really shine, but they are sadly infrequent. The show focused around his relationship with Wendy and despite the talented Gardner taking on the role, Woodward’s Tinkerbell was stronger and the show would have benefited from her character taking more prominence.
In keeping the lost boys’ boisterous spirits, Michael appears to be the only one to have retained his childhood innocence despite living the most risqué lifestyle, which works well and Taylor creates an endearing character, while James-King’s intellectual and quirky John provides some much-needed light relief. Unfortunately, again, the brothers are used too infrequently and therefore their strengths fail to rescue the show.
Despite the men initially overshadowing the women, they do eventually come into their own when they portray the plight of the Red Cross volunteers, but the ensemble numbers are generally lost on the small stage of Charing Cross Theatre, with a large cast giving a claustrophobic feel.
The stronger moments of the show sadly fail to keep Lost Boy afloat, as so many tales are crammed into Llewellyn Davis’ dreamworld that his own tale of war becomes lost itself.