Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Review: Peter and Alice, starring Dame Judi Dench and a Mr Ben Whishaw

I ordered the tickets for Peter and Alice the day they came out, and I walked into the theatre buzzing with excitement. Ben Whishaw is a member of the group which I classify as “my boys”, that is to say one of the (predominantly) British boys whose work I keep my eye on. He's really quite divine and peculiar and silly you see, and I love him for it. 

He plays Peter, in a tale which depicts the true story of the one time that the children who inspired Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland met in a London bookshop. Peter was 35 and Alice was 80, and Logan re-imagines what would have happened. Logan's story questions what it is to grow up. It's a clever concept really. However, I’m going to put it out there right now when I say that the production left me rather unfulfilled. It is an undeniably beautifully written and cleverly directed play, but it just wasn't quite for me for once in my life. It touched on those fears inside of me, but deep down I wanted it to exploit them, to twist them and rapture them to the extent that I would be forced to run out the theatre being unable to handle the truth. It did, and does to some extent, or else I wouldn't be writing this post, but I felt like it was telling me things I already knew, and I'm a little teenager. 

Now, unfulfilled doesn't mean all bad. There were some seriously sinister undertones about the two writers concerned: J.M Barrie and Lewis Carroll. It's something which I shan't share for fear of spoilers but will be researching for means of seeking validity. Then there was Olly Alexander (who I was thrilled to find out was cast in it) and Ruby Bentall playing Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland respectively. I adored them both, but the aspect of having the real life and fictional versions of Peter and Alice was both clever and confusing. Then, of course, there was Dame Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw. Dench was marvellous, as was Whishaw. Whishaw was especially marvellous at the end where he still seemed to carry tears in his eyes (slight spoiler!) when they had their curtain call. It pained me to not stand up and give him a standing ovation. He was beautiful, but I've seen him do better.

It was the direction of the plot, you see, which disappointed me, it seemed to draw threads together and then let them go, moving from one thought to another. Yet, what a plot it is. Alike to the Mr Selfridge type trend where we get a sneak peek into a famous person's life, it succeeds in being interesting. It didn't leave me unfulfilled because it wasn't a good play; I just knew deep down in my heart that I was right to demand so much more. The cast was oozing with incredibly potential and John Logan’s previous play was a tony winner, but collectively I think there something which hadn’t been manifested correctly, or to put it more accurately, manifested correctly to please me.

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