Phil Willmott’s new musical, Lost Boy, takes Peter Pan far beyond the realms of Never Never Land and instead sees how he would fare as a captain in the First World War with his former comrades (all now grown up) by his side. Commenting on the loss of innocence and the challenges of growing up, the show is flawed but there is still lots to enjoy.
Lost Boy starts with a young soldier in the trenches who enters a dreamlike state and finds himself returning back to London as Peter Pan. As he reconnects with his childhood sweetheart Wendy, he starts to learn about what it’s really like to become a man and eventually takes his Lost Boys to the front line of the war in a bid to finally grow up.
On paper, this doesn’t seem like such an odd tale but it certainly takes some getting used to. The tone is way off. Peter Pan veers from sharing his first innocent kiss with Wendy to having a wild night of sex with Tinkerbell (now a lady of the night) within half an hour. The story feels quite disjointed and not because of it’s dreamlike quality. It isn’t helped by seemingly every member of the chorus getting a solo, whether it helps the narrative along or not.
Thankfully the dedicated cast keep the momentum up with some real standout performances coming throughout the night. Grace Gardner as Wendy Darling has a couple of the most powerful numbers and pulls them off with aplomb. Her range really is something else. As her nemesis, Joanna Woodward shines as the embittered Tinkerbell and really livens up the action with her entrance late in the first half. Joseph Taylor is also one to watch as Michael Darling, young but with a real sense of knowing in his eyes.
The music comes thick and fast with some familiar melodies and memorable tunes. Witty number Jungian Dream Analysis is a pure joy while burlesque song Ooh La La is completely superfluous but brings a light touch to proceedings amongst the trappings of war. Mention must also go to the three piece band who sounded fantastic throughout.
Lost Boy feels like it has the potential to become a bit of a cult classic. It is a bit of an oddity and doesn’t quite take off but for something completely different, unique and interesting this is well worth seeing – just go with an open mind.