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An all-star cast record an immersive new audio version of the JM Barrie classic


BWW Review: PETER PAN: THE AUDIO ADVENTURE, Audio PlayRehearsed via Zoom and recorded remotely, Shaun McKenna's new adaptation of JM Barrie's ephemeral story Peter Pan: The Audio Adventure shows that something truly wonderful can come out of lockdown. The story of the boy who never grew up and his adventures with the Darling children in Neverland may be best known for the 1953 Disney animated film adaptation, but this beautiful and ageless tale has endured since Peter Pan's first literary appearance in 1902.

Divided into four acts, the story will be a brilliant distraction from home-schooling, or a bedtime treat. Brimming with pirates, fairies, mermaids and magic, the production retains all the fantasy and adventures of the original story. There are some lovely moments that McKenna has chosen to keep, such as the charming sections where Peter tries to reattach his severed shadow with soap and when the Lost Boys clear up after their imaginary suppers.

The excellent cast includes a veritable tsunami of award winners. Olivier award winner Sharon D Clarke makes a wonderful narrator; her voice is like warm honey and carries the whole production along. Her pacing is particularly well-judged. Olivier award winners Joanna Riding and Bertie Carvel are an enchanting Mrs and Mr Darling, while Academy Award winner Olivia Colman lends her gentle tones to the role of lively housemaid Liza.

Charlie Cameron is a free-spirited and mischievous Peter Pan and has a delightful rapport with a slightly sickly-sweet Wendy, played by Katie Moore.

Five-time Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh is straight-talking, but very entertaining, as Peter's nemesis Captain Hook. He is a farcical baddy and, appropriately, never veers into anything really frightening. Branagh is supported wonderfully by his crew which includes Jane Horrocks as a very amusingly inquisitive Mullins and Clive Rowe as gentle-hearted Smee.

The cast also includes member of the GOSH Young People's Forum and current and previous patients of the hospital (who all believe in fairies). The result is occasionally a little chaotic, but surely that is the world of the Lost Boys.

The fact that the parts were recorded remotely is very impressive; director Tobias Deacon and producers Oscar Blustin, Anna Söderblom and Charlie Cameron have done a seamless job.

Annabelle Brown's sound design is beautifully realised, with just enough background effects and music to maintain the flow of the story without overwhelming it. Brown also composes the lovely music, along with Richard Brown, that structures the narrative perfectly.

Having lodged in a house just behind Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, JM Barrie supported it for many years before he gifted the copyright for Peter Pan to the hospital in 1929. The pandemic has meant that usual royalties, particularly from Christmas shows, have been notably absent. Access to the production costs a paltry £3 and all proceeds go to GOSH.

This production is charming, immersive and a real treat for children of all ages, but only if you believe in fairies!

Peter Pan: The Audio Adventure is available now

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From This Author Aliya Al-Hassan