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Peter and Wendy
5 stars

At the International Festival
Reviewed by Minka Paraskevova

Undoubtedly one of the gems of the Edinburgh International Festival this year, Mabou Mines’ New York ensemble of actors, puppeteers and musicians created a profoundly magical show on the stage of the Lyceum Theatre - bringing tears to the eyes of many in the adult audience.

A re-imagining of Peter Pan, adapter and producer Liza Lorwin has based the play on the book by Scottish playwright and writer James M. Barrie.  Along with the musical score from Johnny Cunningham, it’s adopted a more vibrant Scottish theme, which was warmly welcomed by the audience.

The story of Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up, and the lost boys in Neverland was told with the voice of only one actor - the amazing Karen Kandel, who played the grown-up Wendy and gave life to seven puppets in the story. The main characters, portrayed by puppets, looked stunningly independent and refined in their movements - with techniques inherited from Japanese Bunraku applied in a freestyle Western production.

The story is constructed as a play within a play; Wendy reads a book, and when she finishes, the puppets turn into simple toys to be piled away into a toy-box.  By revealing the emptiness of the nursery and the pain a mother experiences when her child flees away, it shifted the ending into a sentimental, haunting memory game.

Peter and Wendy is a gripping tale of a journey in childhood - with dark moments of eeriness, in which the mystic Celtic tunes and songs of the musicians on stage sound profoundly at home. In my opinion, it’s one of the best theatrical experiences of the Festival this year!

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These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2009.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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