This lovely piece of devised work opens with the young cast, paint-splattered and white-faced, arranged on a row of chairs, from which they begin a choreographed series of movements and gestures. The gestures (Kabuki inspired, perhaps) spread along the row and build.
It has no narrative, no clear sense of character and no underpinning conflict; instead is it is structured as a series of vignettes.
Neverland is about the fears and dreams of growing up, the inevitability of ageing and death. In this exploration, soliloquy, movement and music are used. There is a particularly charming scene in which a young boy’s dream of heroism is played out with sword and shield and a beautiful puppet dragon, all studded with LED lights suggestive of stars. JM Barrie’s Neverland is a reference point: a point of escape and a metaphor for magic, for fairy tales, for childhood dreams. Does growing old necessitate the sacrifice of such things? If the second star on the left is nothing but a ball of gas and if dreams are just neurological signals, is there an inherent untruth in what our parents tell us when we are young? Or in our dreams is there an intangible reality? Baudrillard’s theory of hyper-reality is briefly considered; I think the idea could be further developed in this piece.
It has no narrative, no clear sense of character and no underpinning conflict; instead is it is structured as a series of vignettes. The ideas nonetheless build upon one another through the use of clever repetition. Performers disclose their dreams – really nightmares – into which we can read fears of growing up and the events and responsibilities that come with this. The chorus of nine, seated around a large table, intrude on these monologues. There is always a sense of emptiness to space, always a table, always an exit, a door-like thing – and the performers of the monologues are always, eventually, at the mercy of the chorus’ suggestion.
Neverland is a lovely piece of theatre devised and performed by a talented cast. Despite its many arresting moments, it doesn’t quite come together as a cohesive whole but the ideas it explores give pause for thought.