Friday 9 December 2016

Underneath A Magical Moon Review - Waterside Arts Centre, Sale.

The Christmas show this year at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale in Manchester is presented by tutti frutti and York Theatre Royal. Underneath a Magical Moon - a re-imagining of Peter Pan as retold by Wendy Darling - is written by leading playwright Mike Kenny, and is suited best to children aged around 3-12, and their families.

The scene is set in the small garden of the 3 children - Wendy, John and Michael, and takes place sometime after the events in Neverland. They are camping out overnight, and Wendy relates the tale of Peter Pan for the boys, with the three of them playing all of the characters.

Wendy is older, and knows she is beginning to lose her innocence and 'grow up', and the three children all consider what this will mean, and how they feel about the inevitability. It's nicely done, and left me wondering when it was that I stopped being excited by the idea of a garden camp out.

The one hour show has a cast of only 3 actors, and they were brilliant. If they missed a single line I didn't spot it. Playing the parts of three children they danced around the stage interacting with the amazing props as if they'd created every inch of it themselves. They played their own eclectic musical accompaniment using a huge variety of wind, brass and stringed instruments, as well as an accordian, and they can all sing.

The length at 1 hour was almost perfect. Only in the last 5 minutes did some of the children in the audience start to shuffle about and make noise. Concentration was held throughout. In front of us were the We're Going On An Adventure crew - who have become good friends of ours - and their 3 year old was virtually silent through the whole performance bar a couple of comedy comments, which only made it better.

The props and set really were amazing. Seemingly minimal, one backdrop and with no set changes, but so many items had amazing hidden properties, the design was genius. A bucket has never had as many uses, but I don't want to give anything away because you'll lose the 'wow' factor which was apparent on the faces of everyone around me.

All of the familiar characters were there, with Captain Hook, the Lost Boys, Pirates and Peter Pan himself being played by the 3 'children'. The Crocodile is awesome (no spoilers), and Tinkerbell is portrayed in a very believable way using light and sound. In fact, the whole thing was incredibly believable.

Underneath A Magical Moon wasn't so much acted as crafted. Slow motion was used for the tricky bits in the fight scenes, the stage transformed from garden to sea to island seamlessly, and they flew - that was my 6 and 8 year old sons' favourite part! They never left ground. Everything was believable.

It was even believable that saying "I don't believe in grown ups" might not be good, and I will never think of mermaids (or teenage girls) in the same way ever again...

Underneath A Magical Moon really was a delight, the boys loved it, and I'm sure many of the children who see it will be inspired to go home, pull out old sheets and buckets and create their own pirate ships, Wendy houses and anything else their imagination can conjure up. Myself, I just wish I'd never grown up...

Underneath A Magical Moon at Waterside Arts Centre is suitable for all ages (recommended for ages 3 - 11 and their family, and runs from Thursday 8 until Saturday 31 December (times vary). Ticket prices £16-£10. Find out more details and book tickets here...

We were given free entry for review.

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