Audiences will be hooked on play

Sam Barnett plays First Mate Starkey in Peter Pan.
Sam Barnett plays First Mate Starkey in Peter Pan.

The mostly pre-teen and teenage cast of the J. M. Barrie play had such fun on stage on Friday’s opening night it was impossible for theatregoers not to do the same.

Director Paul Treasure stayed true to the original play’s script, complete with pirates, mermaids, Indians and some rather hair-raising political incorrectness.

There was a lot of yelling and swashbuckling, with each stage combat-trained actor taking such pleasure in pirate-killing that some of the Lost Boys could, on occasion, scarcely contain their grins.

This took nothing away from the enjoyment for the audience, which roared with laughter throughout the third, most adventurous act.

Brad Towton gleefully gave his Captain James Hook a first-rate pirate voice and made fine comedic pairings with both hapless boatswain Smee (Andre Victor) and First Mate Starkey (Sam Barnett).

Yet not all was light-hearted.

With the pre-Disney script came moments of real malevolence, particularly from Peter Pan (Celeste Underhill), the boy who never grew up ” and evidently wanted to make sure nobody else he cared about did either.

Underhill, a dance and drama teacher at Swan Christian College, took unmistakable relish in creating a wild and joyful Pan who was also selfish, moody and at times sinister.

It must have been a challenge to find, train, rehearse, costume and make up such a large tribe of young people for this long and complex play, but hard work has paid off ” the costumes were delightful, with the Lost Boys looking particularly wild.

Special mention must be made of the staging, which was simple and suggestive in nature, using only a handful of set pieces creatively conceived and obviously lovingly made.

These evoked a staggering range of locations in the water, the sky, and above and below ground, with sparing but very clever use of smoke effects.

The theatre ends 2013 with a bang with its telling of the old tale Peter Pan ” one that could only be described as exuberant and that will doubtless make every child who sees it itch to get on stage themselves.

Roleystone Theatre’s production of Peter Pan is at 8pm on November 27, 29 and 30, December 4, 6 and 7, with 2pm matinees on November 30 (limited seats available) and December 1. Roleystone Theatre is at 587 Brookton Highway, opposite Croyden Road. Tickets are $16, $12 concession. Call 9397 5730 or email roleystonetheatre.com.au