Despite the programme claiming “a story inspired by the fairytale classic”, and a provocative re-titling, we actually watch a word-perfect faithful retelling of the J. M. Barrie original that would satisfy the tastes of any Peter Pan purist, except perhaps for the last ten minutes.
Théâtre de la Feuille transforms the Hong Kong Cultural Centre’s Studio Theatre into a traverse stage: more of a promenade catwalk, upon which we can admire the stunning costume designs inspired by fashion designer Rei Kawakubo (founder of Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market), designed by Stephen Fan and Calson Wong.
Superficially, this is a very family-friendly production, with impish, unpredictable choreography (Ata Wong Chun Tat) and beautiful aerial work (Johnny Tang). Then again, one or two lines from Captain Hook’s pirates about alcohol abuse and “fondling women’s buttocks” stick out as deliberately tonally inappropriate. A director’s note in the programme tells us, “This story is dedicated to my parents,” and we are left to wonder to what extent the few additions about parental abandonment and potential reconciliation are autobiographical.
It’s worth noting that the play runs nearly two hours with no interval, and audience are squeezed in together on hard, narrow stools: it’s a tough ask, especially for much younger and older (and overweight) patrons. Audiences expecting a faithful Peter Pan will be pleasantly surprised by this production’s idiosyncracies; audiences expecting something different and darker than the original may be disappointed.
Playing 20 – 23 May 2021 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Studio Theatre.