Performed 27th to 29th March 2003
Review: Samuel Winthrop. Hexham Courant.
ANYONE who knows the Riding Mill Drama Club will have come to expect a professional level of skill and an unforgettable evening at any of the club’s performances.
So even with an enormous cast of 50 children and a play that involved singing, dancing, sword fighting and of course, flying, it is no surprise (yet no less spectacular), that they did not fail to deliver with their production of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, directed by Joy Pusey.
The play itself is certainly not an easy one, with a lot of complicated characters and technically complex scenes.
However, Joy Pusey and her team tackled the difficult con- tent expertly, producing, among other things, a visually impressive and hauntingly "beautiful flying sequence, a dramatic battle with the pirates under strobe lighting, “pyrotechnics, and of course, the stunning crocodile, a costume requiring six children with a seventh for the clock.
The children’s acting was of an impressive quality, with Siobhan Taylor’s Peter Pan showing the heroic and resourceful side of the character, while not ignoring Pan‘s arrogant and selfish nature.
She also showed a talent for dancing in the well choreographed scene with Pan‘s own shadow, played by an equally well co-ordinated Amy Howard.
Amy later appeared again as the comically named Lost Boy, Slightly Soiled.
Peter Pan was complemented well by Wendy, played with maturity and skill by Rosie Cross, whose excellent grasp of the character made her equally believable as prudish daughter and reluctant mother.
Natasha Khazaee's fault- less performance as the spoilt fairy Tinkerbell raised as much laughter with her jealous sulking as she raised applause with her singing, while Rowan Hinchcliffe and Jacob Hansen used every comic opportunity (the top bat deserves a mention) to its full effect as John and Michael.
Although outnumbered, the adults also had excellent performances, with Steve Jones on loan from the Bellingham Drama Group to play the father, Mr Darling, the perfect English businessman, constantly infuriated by the dog Nana, (Ewan Duff, who also played a redskin chief), and April Joslin as his tragically fretful wife.
However, it wouldn’t be Peter Pan without the one of the most famous villains of all time - Captain Hook. Played magnificently by Ron Thornton, as sartorially impressive as he was theatrically commanding, with comedy and with eternal exasperation at his sycophantic henchman Smee (played by Rose Walsh) he demonstrated a great stage presence.
What struck me the most about the performance was the amazing ability of the all the children playing the many other characters Indians, lost boys, pirates, Never- birds, fairies, pixies, mermaids and of course the crocodile to take all the Logistical problems in their stride and to give a highly professional performance while enjoying it as well.
With fantastic scenery, toe tapping music and a raffle almost as dramatic as the play, it made for the perfect evening.
Congratulations to all those involved for taking on such an ambitious project, it was; definitely worth it.