May 19, 2010
There's perhaps only one thing about the entertainment world that I dislike more than child actors, and that's adult actors pretending to be children on stage and screen.
I was reminded of this antipathy yesterday evening when I finally made it out to catch a performance of Peter Pan -- a 360-degree CGI-infused production from London adapted from the J. M. Barrie play by Tanya Ronder and directed by Ben Harrison. The show is on the first leg of a U.S. tour and is playing in a tent on the Embarcadero in San Francisco.
There's very little else going on besides people in their 20s and 30s stomping about the round stage petulantly in pajamas, fondling teddy bears and speaking in squeaky voices. Only the few pirate scenes, where the adults get to act their own age, provide relief.
That being said, as the show unfolded with its engaging mixture of high- and low-tech effects, I found my annoyance with the acting fading and felt immersed in the story. There are some lovely moments, such as Captain Hook's speech about how the only woman that ever felt anything for him is the crocodile that's trying to eat him. And I enjoyed the simplicity and imagination of some of the staging, such as an underwater sequence in which Wendy's brothers John and Michael flirt with two mermaids. The mermaids are aerial dancers and their tails are created by the unfurling sheets with which they slowly and gracefully move about the stage.
At two and a half hours, Peter Pan feels a little overly long. But I would definitely recommend the show for families -- I think it's a great treat for anyone aged eight and above.
Here's what The Chronicle's Robert Hurwitt had to say about the show.