BBC Radio 7, 10-13 May 2010
This charming adaptation of Barrie's classic could be approached as a
struggle between good and evil involving Peter Pan (Toyah Willcox), Wendy (Georgina Cates) and the Lost Boys on the one hand,
and Captain Hook (Ron Moody) and the pirates on the other. Despite all attempts to capture him, Peter Pan emerged triumphant,
ensuring that the children were returned to the bosom of their family, while giving the Lost Boys a new home as the Darlings'
(Ron Moody, June Whitfield) adopted children. Meanwhile Peter Pan remained defiantly on the margins, refusing to grow up,
even when Wendy had become an adult and had a daughter of her own.
At a deeper level, however, Dirk Maggs' production could be approached as a kind
of mental struggle in Barrie's mind between reason and emotion. Peter Pan represents his emotional side - his desire
to remain a child - while the Darlings are his reasonable side. They approach life as a kind of Edwardian paradigm, where
children are well brought-up to become good parents in their own right. Hence their willingness to adopt the Lost Boys. Although
there is nothing wrong with this (as children acquire some sense of morality), most adults lose the capacity to project themselves
into imaginative worlds of the kind represented by Peter Pan, where they can transform themselves into heroes battling against
pirates. This sense of mental struggle was enhanced by the unearthly-sounding music (by Wilfredo Acosta) that swirled away
in the background as the action of Peter Pan unfolded.
In this intepretation, Captain Hook/ Mr. Darling (both played by Moody)
had a contradictory role. While he was perceived as protector in the Mr. Darling role, as Hook he posed a threat
to the childlike state of innocence that permitted Peter Pan to thrive. As with all parents, he was simultaneously valuable
yet potentially destructive - someone whose hard-headed realism could restrict a child's imagination. Perhaps there was some
kind of a lesson here for parents, both past and present; while it is certainly important to look after one's children,
one must allow them the freedom to create their own worlds. This, after all, is what all authors do, even when they have graduated
to adulthood. Perhaps there is a Peter Pan in all of us; it's just a matter of acknowledging him and letting him exist, even
if only in the mind.