On Tuesday, August 4th, we ventured to Kensington Gardens to see a production of Peter Pan written by J. M. Barrie. After a lovely stroll through Hyde Park into Kensington Gardens , we stopped to look at the fairly well known statue of the fictional character, Peter Pan (erected in secret overnight on a spring morning in 1912). I soon spotted a white tent sent up and sign that said, "Peter Pan - Straight away". I looked at the white circus-looking tent and thought to myself, "Did I really just pay that much money to see a play in a white tent?" Well, if I may say, a most delightful and pleasant surprise was in store for me!
The venue was a dynamic weatherproof intimate theatrical setup. It housed over 1100 seats, all tiered, with great views for the whole audience. The characters were able to fly freely and the upper walls were a part of the 360 degree projected movie set! The projected scenery was designed by William Dudley, and is the same technology which can be seen in the 3D cinemas and from using the same equipment as the Spiderman films. The first group flying scene with Wendy, Peter, Michael, John, and Tinker Bell was incredible with the addition of a 400 sq. mile view of London as the backdrop. It made me feel as if I was flying with them! It was so amazing and magical that it actually brought tears to my eyes.
Barrie was born in Scotland in 1860. When he was six years old, he lost an older brother in an ice skating accident. His mother was left devastated and Barrie did everything to fill his brother's shoes, including dressing in his clothes and whistling in the same way he did. Barrie's mother found comfort in the fact that her dead son would perhaps remain a little boy forever. Many people think that this scenario could have influenced the famous story.
Peter Pan was first performed in 1904, two years before the story was actually published. Another factor that is thought to have played an important part in Barrie's literary, and even personal life, was the Llewelyn Davies family. Barrie first met George, Jack, and baby Peter in 1897, in London's Kensington Gardens. Barrie was inspired to write about their many playful adventures with the boys. The fate of most of the Llewelyn boys was sad and depressing, especially considering their portrayal in the play. George, died in World War I, Michael drowned in Oxford, and Peter committed suicide in 1960 by throwing himself in front of a fast moving underground train.
I would highly recomend this production to anyone! It was probably the most magical and well acted play that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. Information about this production can be found at http://www.visitlondon.com/peterpan/
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens logo
*photo courtesy of www.visitlondon.com/peterpan
Peter, Wendy, and Micheal flying over London
*photo courtesy of www.guardian.co.uk
Peter Pan - Ciaran Kellgren
Wendy Darling - Abby Ford
Michael Darling - David Poynor
*photo courtesy of www.broadwayworld.com
Captain Hook - Jonathan Hyde