Frankie Meredith’s Finding Peter is a new original story based on the beloved characters from James Matthew Barrie’s original magical world, but this time it is Peter that needs rescued. Wendy is the one that is recruited by Tinker Bell to return to Neverland and save him, and she must go without her brothers John and Michael because, in her own words “It is far too late and you both need to play the other characters in the show”
The show is definitely a piece for younger children as it barely uses any lighting, sound effects or set, but aims to stimulate the audience’s imagination through interactive panto-like activities with the characters (for example; assisting Wendy to transport to Neverland by throwing fairy dust into the air while thinking of our happiest memory). While this is an interesting and effective approach for engaging children, I constantly saw them becoming confused when the characters talked with other characters that weren’t actually there or pointed at obstacles or objects that weren’t on stage. I couldn’t help but think that if a little more was added in terms of production, or if one of the actors had added one of these roles to the list they were already playing, it would have made more sense to them.
Finding Peter is told by a 3-person cast that demonstrate their acting ability well, with Jenny Wilford as a strong Wendy, making sure the audience were having as much fun as possible throughout, while Jessica Arden and James Tobin present a plethora of different characters, each one as entertaining as the last. However, the constantly changing characters seemed to also confuse some of the young ones in the audience as the costume changes were often quite subtle, so much so that I witnessed one of the children asking their mother ‘Why is the brother now a mermaid?’
The cast’s larger than life personalities and the slick direction from Scott Ellis are the main things that make this show stand out, as the writing sometimes falls short and drops pace slightly, causing some of the kids to lose attention. However, Finding Peter is a lighthearted 45 minutes that teaches children the importance of independence and shows them that a lot of time, the girl is the real hero in the story.