Who among us doesn’t miss their childhood? Anyone who doesn’t have to go to classes and work for a living, that’s who! So for the rest, bringing a bit of that magic back is important. The innocent wonder of early years is hard to grasp again when taxes, schedules and something called responsibilities (I think?) surround you. But do not fret! You can still fly far, far away and forget your worries for at least a couple of hours, led by none other than the merry Peter Pan.
Text: George Stoica
The Hålogaland Theatre’s production of Peter Pan, which debuted on February 25th, is an ambitious project even on paper. Besides the main cast, there are five stunt artists and twenty (!!!) drama and dance students from Kongsbakken Videregåendeskolen. Add to this a mobile stage setup coloured by acrobatics and swordfights and it seems like something way too overproduced for a target age so low.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The cast shines, and each character brings their own little nuance to the bright palette on display. A very special mention goes out to Kristian Figenschow Jr. for his portrayal of the bumbling yet endearing pirate Bill, who had the audience laughing with every line that came out of his mouth. The public loved him. His comedic punches were just what the show needed to break up the drama and action. And speaking of action, oh boy, this is where Kristoffer Jørgensen deserves all the praise. The swordfights aren’t just slow-motion swings two feet away from anyone’s face, no sir: the actors get up close and personal, the blades sing as they meet, Captain Hook uses his eponymous weapon nimbly in battle, the Indians use actual spearing techniques when fighting, and there were so many other things that made these fights some of the most interesting parts of the show. Again, it doesn’t matter if you’re eight or eighty, seeing those scenes will grab you and hold you until the very end! Granted, one such scene taking place on the pirate ship had so many different fights going on at the same time that it was hard to keep track of everyone, but I guess it would be true to life when thinking about it. If anything, it encourages multiple viewings, just so you can see all the effort that was made to bring life and detail to those parts of the story.
The last point that needs mentioning is the stage setup. Based around a modular concentric design, the ingenious construction was capable of rendering everything from a bedroom, to an island, to a pirate ship, to a lagoon, plus a few others which I won’t spoil for you. The whole design meant that there was almost no need for the tech crew to come onstage and drag stuff in and out, except for the larger items. Sorry techs, but no one wants to see you! The whole idea was seamless and worked perfectly. The pirates also made use of the actual theatre hall itself, coming in and out through the entranceways, leering at the crowd and making them feel the threat and unease of being around pirates in black metal makeup. At one point two of them even… actually no, I’m going to spoil the excitement of seeing it firsthand.
The bottom line is that this is not just a production for kids. Their wonder and amazement was shared on the faces of the grownups that came with them. Indeed, there were no adults in the audience that evening, for they were somewhere far away, worrying about boring stuff whilst we were all in Neverland.