The Barn Theatre in Cirencester has cemented its reputation for producing high quality work, making it one of the most exciting regional theatres in the country. Usually, my five hour round trip turns out to have been worth the journey, but as the theatre continues to innovate, I was able to ‘sit in the audience’ of tonight’s performance of Peter Pan without leaving my own living room.
The theatre’s final production of the year, and the last in their reopening season, has chosen to live stream certain performances, as well as giving school children the opportunity to watch in a digital school’s tour. Where the previous production of Marry Me a Little was filmed for streaming as a result of the second lockdown, we watch Peter Pan as it happens live on stage at The Barn.
This imaginative retelling of J.M. Barrie’s most beloved of stories has been adapted for a solo performer. In Alan Pollock’s version, a father who is working away from home, on the other side of the world, rushes back to his hotel room to tell his daughter a bedtime story over a video call. The story is that of the boy who wouldn’t grow up, and the father’s tired reluctance soon disappears as he leaps and bounds around the room to bring all the different characters to life.
Waylon Jacobs’ exuberant performance is a joy to behold, with each of the characters feeling distinctive; as fun voices and carefully crafted mannerisms create a richness and depth that’s not easy to achieve in a one-man performance. A great deal of this comes down to the way the stage is filled with movement, Jacobs is rarely still and Tosh Wanogho-Maud’s movement direction helps to create a real sense of adventure, no more so than on board the Jolly Roger where Jacobs cuts a striking figure as the infamous Captain Hook.
Kirk Jameson’s direction keeps Peter Pan compelling throughout, and while Waylon Jacobs may be alone on stage, the relatively simple set and sense of storytelling is heightened by Benjamin Collins’ projected animation. The stop motion animated line drawings give us the sense of how the daughter might be interpreting her father’s story, and draws us in like children who haven’t quite grown up ourselves.
The Barn Theatre’s production of Peter Pan is spellbindingly brilliant, and the perfect bedtime story no matter how old you are. The vivid colours presented on stage mirror the expressive nature of the storytelling, and the end result is a very unique version of this renowned story. For those of us unable to get to the Cotswolds right now, then for the first time, Neverland is only a few clicks away, if only you’ll just believe.
Peter Pan streams from The Barn Theatre at certain performances, tickets are on sale here