Thomas W. Hodgkinson

Peter Pan

By Liam Steel
Repertory, Birmingham 

Birmingham Repertory; until Jan 19 This punky, spunky production takes the tale of the boy who never grew up and tells it to grow up, a little. In the director Liam Steel’s relatable reimagining, Wendy (Cora Tsang) is a bolshy teenager eking out life on a Birmingham housing estate. There’s no dad, only a harassed, often absent foster mum, played by Nia Gwynne, who — as JM Barrie originally intended — doubles as the dastardly Captain Hook. The graffiti-sprayed set transforms a concrete courtyard into Neverland’s lagoon, a pirate galleon and the subterranean home of the “Lost Ones” (girls as well as boys here) with terrific ingenuity. Lawrence Walker makes an intriguingly dim Peter Pan, yet this is Wendy’s story. In an effective reversal, Tsang, who has had to play mother to her two brothers, must learn to be a child.