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Peter Pan at Helena - Review

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published August 24th 2015
A flight of fancy - with fairy dust
Sir James Barrie's much loved Peter Pan was created for an adult novel The Little White Bird in 1902 and two years later he returned to the character and made him the central protagonist in a stage play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up.

The play, rich in pirates, Red Indians, a ticking crocodile, mermaids, fairies and jokes that can be enjoyed at many levels was immensely popular, running every year with new material by the author, establishing the play we know and love today.

Peter Pan, Helena College, Kristin Twynam-Perkins
Cameron Watkins-Kerr as a cheeky Pan (Photograph courtesy K Twynam-Perkins)

Sir James gave the royalties to the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital and in his will bequeathed them to the Hospital in perpetuity. That only applies to Great Britain, of course, as the copyright has expired in the rest of the world, but Australian productions usually make a donation in Sir James' name to Princess Margaret Hospital or similar.

This classic was Helena College's Middle School Drama production for 2015. Directed by Kristen Twynam-Perkins as her swan song before leaving next year to seek new challenges, the cast is presented without doubling, Kristin having so much talent to draw on.

This has led her to make a big break from tradition in two ways. Firstly, she has different actors for Mr Darling and Captain Hook and she has Pan played by a boy - something that hasn't happened since Nina Boucicault first created the role in 1904.

Peter Pan, Helena College, Kristin Twynam-Perkins
Manon Mason (Mrs Darling) and Michael (Tessa Stephenson) (Photograph courtesy of K Twynam-Perkins)

Some very clever staging and set work enlivens the Helena College production as does the huge enthusiasm and energy of the players.

Pan was a very active Cameron Watkins-Kerr, Mrs Darling was played by the lovely and elegant Manon Mason, Captain Hook (with a slightly unbelievable handle-bar moustache) by Matthew Todd and a whole host of eager young actors and dancers.

Peter Pan, Helena College, Kristin Twynam-Perkins
Wendy Darlin (Kate Morss) (Photograph courtesy K Twynam-Perkins)

Costumes were excellent, particularly the mermaids and Mrs Darling. The mermaids did a vigourous and challenging dance in the lagoon and the big fight scene was well-handled, as was the flying.

The lighting was particularly well-designed and effective, the stage by turns a forest grove, a lagoon and the nursery.

Peter Pan, Helena College, Kristin Twynam-Perkins
The cast of Peter Pan (Photograph courtesy K Twynam-Perkins)

This production was very firmly a school production with all their limitations of budget and all their glories of commitment and enthusiasm. The opening night, which I attended, played to a capacity crowd of appreciative children, friends and family.

Kristen and her large band of helpers and technicians should be very proud of this charming school production which has now completed its run.

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Why? A charming enthusiastic school Peter Pan
Where: Helena College, Glen Forrest
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