Waylon Jacobs and the creative team at The Barn Theatre have developed a stunning retelling of the J.M. Barrie classic - at a time when the theatre community needs this piece more than they realise.
Let's be brutal for a second. We're currently well into (and hopefully coming out of) a viral pandemic which has seen many aspects of the arts all but decimated. Slowly but surely, theatre is trying to rebuild itself in any way that it can - and the team behind The Barn Theatre's production of Peter Pan are not only leading the way in stunning immersive theatre, they're pioneering an approach that demonstrates the all consuming power that even a 60-minute performance can have over an audience.
Fronting the one-man show, Jacobs (Hamilton, Memphis The Musical) narrates the story from start to finish as a way to placate his child whilst he's away from home. Conversing on Facetime, and merging modern day into storytime classic, this piece is far from the Disney-esque, panto versions we've seen before.
Drawing on a similar style to (in my opinion!) the best movie interpretation, Hook, the piece takes you from inception to completion in a way that makes it impossible to take your eyes off our protagonist. From the opening scene, Jacobs had command of the stage and - importantly - the audience in the palm of his hand. This man is an INCREDIBLE talent and, whilst I don't doubt his ability in a West End smash like Hamilton, Jacobs is equally at home, and even more of a star in a piece like Peter Pan.
Credit should also go to the creative team - specifically to Gregor Donnelly who's set design is simple but incredibly effective and, coupled with intense lighting and gorgeous projection from Joe Price and Benjamin Collins respectively, a feast for the eyes from the get-go.
Watching the show on a live stream was definitely different, but was a welcome distraction from the world right now. It was also my first time watching something produced by The Barn and what a gem of a place this venue is. Creating outstanding new and experimental theatre without being pretentious, watching Peter Pan felt like a welcome invitation to experience raw talent with no frills attached.
Absolutely, this piece is beautiful, enthralling and captivating, but it doesn't rely on the glitz and glam of the West End to create a comparable quality of theatre. Both have their place and, more than ever, need our support right now. But for an unapologetically beautiful interpretation of a classic story, I'd take this hands down - pandemic or no pandemic.
Peter Pan plays at The Barn Theatre until 3rd January 2021. Some performances can be viewed via a live stream, all in person performances conform to the Government guidelines around social distancing. For more information and to get tickets, head online to barntheatre.org.uk.