Edinburgh Fringe is often filled with adaptations and remixes of classics, so it is very refreshing to see Tread the Boards Theatre Company bring J.M Barrie's children's' classic
Tread the Boards have created a delightful production that is captivating, energetic and playful.
One of the challenges of children's theatre is making a performance engaging and accessible for the younger audience, who will have no qualms about letting their feelings known if they are not enjoying it. With an impressive multipurpose set and lively colourful costumes, this production successfully immerses us into Neverland. There is a sense of ethereal wonder as Tinkerbell, cleverly symbolised by bright blue lights, flies from each actor seamlessly. There is a similar buzz of excitement when we hear a ticking noise, and a spectacular crocodile is wheeled around the stage, much to the horror of Captain Hook!
Through these wonderful effects and the performances of the actors, the show radiates playfulness. Peter and Wendy (Tom Riddell and Ellie Forrest) have no trouble encouraging the audience to yell for Tinkerbell as they are stranded in the ocean. Riddell delivers a very energetic performance and wonderfully captures the character's childish essence. The ensemble in general wholly commit to each of their characters with lively and engaging performances, holding up a consistent level of energy and charisma. The chemistry between Captain Hook (John-Robert Partridge) and Smee (Marc Alden Taylor) was particularly enjoyable to watch. Partridge played the villain perfectly and showed moments of impeccable comic timing with lines such as "Shut up Smee!"
The only moments of this production that feel a little less entertaining are transitions between scenes. Though this is an essential part of the production, there were occasions when a transition felt a little too long, such as the transformation from the Lost Boys' den to Marooners' rock. To the cast’s credit, not a single one breaks character during these transitions and this helps to keep up the theatrical illusion but, for a child, it doesn't take long for the attention to wander. Fortunately, as soon as the lights come up and another scene starts, we are captivated again as the performers command our attention from the very first line.
Tread the Boards have created a delightful production that is captivating, energetic and playful. The success of this show lies in its invitation for us to join in the fun and not simply watch it. It is a great family show with a childish sense of wonder, but with a few hidden gems of sophisticated humour for the older generations as well!