National Theatre of Scotland presents Peter Pan (3 stars)

National Theatre of Scotland presents Peter Pan

It’s hard to know who the National Theatre of Scotland’s target audience is for this much anticipated production of Peter Pan. Certainly not families with children who, drawn by the title, will head to this in their droves and inevitably be disappointed.

There are a few magical touches to keep young minds captive – Tinkerbell depicted as a flickering flame, the odd bit of energetic ‘flying’, and the miraculous appearance of all four Lost Boys in a seemingly empty bed. But with a running time of over two-and-a-half hours, that’s just not enough.

Writer David Grieg has relocated Barrie’s tale from London to Lothian, setting Mr Darling up as an engineer on the Forth Rail Bridge as it nears completion. This leads to some innovative set design, with the iconic half-finished bridge revolving to transform into a pirate ship.

Although even here we run into trouble, when the characters clinging to it are almost camouflaged, rendering the nuances of their performance barely visible. Which is actually one of this production’s biggest problems – it’s just too dark. Not just the storytelling, which could certainly use an injection of fun, but the minimal lighting does little to counter the show’s already soporific pace.

A few of the performers shine, but overall the standard falls short of what you’d expect from a national company. Most disappointing of all, the audience has no hand in bringing Tinkerbell back from the brink of death – but then that would probably be far too engaging and audience friendly for this resolutely serious production.

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 8–Sat 12 Jun

Peter Pan

The tale of the boy who never grew up is given a Scottish flavour, in keeping with the nationality of its creator, JM Barrie, who was born 150 years ago. With flying children, thrilling sword fights, fire-eaters, acrobatics, dastardly pirates and the ominous ticking of the crocodile, this production promises excitement…

Peter Pan

David Greig's new version of the adventurous JM Barrie story, set within a re-imagined Victorian Edinburgh, and complete with sword fighting, acrobatics and illusions. Directed by John Tiffany.

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