Point of View - Gurleen Judge reviews Akvarious' 'Peter Pan'

Peter Pan is a story of a mischievous young boy who spends his never-ending childhood in a magical place called, Neverland, captaining the Lost Boys, made up of children who were lost as infants and remained unclaimed. Neverland is populated with Fairies, Mermaids, Red Indian and of course, the evil Pirates. 

After an unexpected meeting with the Darling children, Peter brings Wendy and her brothers back to Neverland. They embark on a journey full of adventures together culminating in the clash with Peter’s nemesis Captain Hook and his fellow pirates. 

This version directed by Hidayat Sami has both it's moments of magic and disappointment, but more than anything else one is left unmoved by the experience.

It is not unusual for a girl to play Peter, and Faezeh Jalali infuses her Pan with impeccable boyish enthusiasm and agility. Her rope mallakhamb expertise makes for an interesting addition, which she she carries out with reasonable ease, but unfortunately it does not really elevate the scenes as much as would be hoped. Preetika Chawla is a warm and endearing Wendy, holding her own as a young mother to the Lost Boys. The Lost Boys themselves are an energetic ensemble and do well in supporting Peter and Wendy. In contrast though, Kumud Mishra’s interpretation of ‘Captain Hook’ appears contrived full of unconvincing twitches and guffaws, particularly in the scene where he threatens to kills the three Darling children whom he has just captured. Moreover, as Mr. Darling he lacks the requisite child-like sweetness. The often unclear speech of the actors was a major let down making us miss the important bits of information in this relatively verbose play. An departure from the original, is when the ticking crocodile and not the mermaid rescue the injured Peter & Wendy from the Mermaid’s Lagoon. The crocodile, in his only appearance, looked more like a stuffed toy and made it hard to believe that the evil Captain Hook was so afraid of him. 

The most powerful moment in the play is the flight of the Darling children with Peter Pan to Neverland, a scene that is sure to send shivers down your spine. While the space was used effectively and quite cleverly, the real magic of the play lies in Arghya Lahiri's light design. The effects used to create ripples in the pond and also sailing away Jolly Roger are beautifully executed.

Inspite of all the stagecraft and wizardry there is something lacking in this production. The moments of loss or delicate humanity that is part of the imaginative fabric of this particular story. Although, the children in the audience seemed to be enjoying themselves, the adult themes in the play have not been given enough emphasis.The elements of escapism, childishness, transience, immorality and heartbreak are not fully explored. As a result of a superficial understanding of the text, one doesn't connect with any of the characters and even a potentially powerful moment like clapping our hands and shouting “I believe in fairies” fails to make one feel for little Tinkerbell. Amidst all the playfulness, the essence of Peter Pan and his story is lost. The adaption seems too simplistic and unfortunately does not quite capture the poignant charm of ‘the boy who would not grow up’.