Peter Pan

Adapted by Sally Cookson
Troubadour White City, London

As well as childhood, Peter Pan is about parenthood. Motherhood, mainly. Its author, JM Barrie, nearly gave it the subtitle The Boy Who Hated Mothers. He always intended that Captain Hook should be portrayed by a woman, the actress playing Mrs Darling, the mother of the children whom Peter lures to Neverland. But the plum role was muscled in on by the original Mr Darling, so that became the tradition. There’s the justification, if needed, for the decision of Sally Cookson’s darkly dazzling musical production to gift the mother and villain roles to Kelly Price. She nails both. Hers is a Hook with glinting teeth, a masochistic streak and a terrific pair of lungs. The steampunk set design is fine, even fun, and the big coup is beautifully achieved: you’ll believe a boy can fly. Two warnings, though. Although a knockout for five-year-olds and older, this is scary for toddlers. For parents, too, there’s the risk of emotional devastation — for, by the end, there’s no doubt of the message. You’re old, your children will leave, and time, that old crocodile, is waiting in the wings.