Review: Wishes come true in magical Peter Pan prequel in Northampton

Dan Starkey as Smee, Greg Haiste as Black Stache, Ian Harris as Lord Aster, plus company. Picture: Manuel Harlan
Dan Starkey as Smee, Greg Haiste as Black Stache, Ian Harris as Lord Aster, plus company. Picture: Manuel Harlan

Lawrence John reviews Peter and the Starcatcher at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton

In life there are times when we all go on what we would call a flight of fancy. It whisks us away, lets us dream of what could be or what we would like to see happen to us. It seems as if all you need to do to make something happen is to wish for it so hard it will come true.

The company use an array of props to tell the story - including umbrellas. Picture: Manuel Harlan

The company use an array of props to tell the story - including umbrellas. Picture: Manuel Harlan

These wishes are part of this engaging and enlightening production of Peter and the Starcatcher.

In play by Rick Elice, which is based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, we see a group of children and adults go on an adventure in which they chase their dreams. These dreams are of a better world or a better life. To make their dreams come true, they need 'star stuff' - and you have to be a starcatcher to have this magic powder.

The audience, who sat spellbound throughout, do not have star stuff, so they have to use of the power of their imaginations. This is where the magic of the theatre comes to the forefront.

The stage for this production is sparse - all we need to see the story unfold is in our mind's eye. In fact at the start of the play the cast call on us to go with them on this journey and to imagine we are aboard a ship, in fact two ships ready to set sail.

Evelyn Hoskins as Molly, Michael Shea as Boy and ensemble. Picture: Manuel Harlan

Evelyn Hoskins as Molly, Michael Shea as Boy and ensemble. Picture: Manuel Harlan

The production team have come up with ingenious ways of firing our imaginations through the creative use of props such as ropes, pulleys, lights, chairs, trunks, stepladders, umbrellas, smoke and bubbles. The cast of 12 play in total 17 different roles, adding to the non-stop action and non-stop adrenaline rush of this adventure.

What we are witnessing is a prequel to Peter Pan. We learn how Peter Pan became the boy who never grew up and how he reached Never Never Land.

Each one of the cast has a chance to shine, but the three around which the plot hangs are Evelyn Hoskins as Molly, Greg Haiste as Black Stache and Michael Shea as boy.

If you are going to ever catch a falling star and put in your pocket, then become a Starcatcher and catch this play before it disappears.

* Peter and the Starcatcher is at Royal & Derngate in Northampton until December 31. Call 01604 624811 or visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk to book.