Peter Pan on Ice, Festival Theatre. Further performances: Thu 10 February, Fri 11 February, Sat 12 February, Sun 13 February 7.30pm and matinees Sat 12 & Sun 13 2.30pm
By Danielle Farrow
JM Barrie’s hero is flying – and skating – into the Edinburgh Festival Theatre this week in this Wild Rose Ice Theatre production boasting a cast of Russian Ice Stars. Peter Pan on Ice is a stylish show, with skills aplenty (including fine timing and lifts in the skating) and some lovely design touches, and there is entertainment to be had by the family, particularly with a few lively pyrotechnic surprises.
An imaginative world is created through the set design (by Perry Scenic), with a huge book providing scenery changes, and lighting (designed by Alex Passmore) helps create strong settings, in particular for scenes with the Indians, though the mermaid scene was not properly visible and the costume design (by Joolz) – mostly clear throughout – did not function as wished there. Cavalieri Guiseppe Arena’s choreography creates character well and fills the stage (in fact, it occasionally looks cramped), and the drumming within Indian scenes as part of Silvio Amato’s musical score delivers well on energy.
However, the focus on design in this review, while reflecting the strong look of the piece, also highlights its lack of vivid story-telling. For the most part, the bare bones of the tale are clear, but a voice-over narrative introducing scenes disappears part way through and leaves changes from the book a little unclear. Performers – un-notated changes to cast means they will be referenced only by character – are highly skilled skaters and acrobats and there is much to admire in their skills, but the only one to express emotion and act, as well as skate beautifully, is Tinkerbell. This means the production falls short on the whole idea of ‘Ice Theatre’.
Performers’ technical skills were very clear and, along with the well-played famous fairy, JM Barrie stood out for his presence and the smooth elegance of his skating, the Crocodile (also notable as an Indian and a pirate) for his acrobatics and sense of enjoyment, and there were a couple of fine hoop sequences by one company member, in particular a fire hoop display. Overall, though, the canned music was not always apt and strongly contributed to a definite lack of variation in pace and mood, despite design attempts to combat this. Dance is an expression of music – which includes thought and emotion – and this expressiveness is missing.
See this show for the design and its impressive ice skating, acrobatics and surprise touches (which gained gasps and ‘wows’ from young audience members), but be warned: this Peter Pan on Ice lacks the expression and variation which a story of a couple of hours really does need in order to be fully satisfying.