The opening night performance of Peter Pan at London's Royal National Theatre on Dec. 16 took a little longer than usual, when a diving mermaid dislocated her shoulder -- or "fin" -- in the lagoon scene.
Nonetheless, a good time seemed to be had by all (except the mermaid, who went off for medical care), according to a Dec. 18 report in the Times of London, which pronounced Ian McKellan's Captain Hook "all quivering preciosity, mournful gentility and Old Etonian world-weariness."
The narrator (a sort of alter ego to Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie) is played by Alec McCowen, Peter is played by Daniel Evans and Smee is played by Clive Rowe (fresh from his Olivier Award-winning performance as Nicely-Nicely in the RNT's Guys and Dolls).
Peter Pan, a regular feature of the London theatrical season, has had a long succession of distinguished actresses playing the title role -- beginning with Nina Boucicault (daughter of the famed playwright Dion) at its premiere in 1902 and continuing with the likes of Maude Adams and -- in New York in the '50s and captured for posterity on kinescope for TV audiences -- Mary Martin. According to the Times of London, the current production is light and campy but also -- by casting a male as Peter -- explores the story's Freudian overtones and is more "recognizably the work of the Barrie who tried to please his rejecting mother by dressing up and imitating her favorite son" -- Barrie's brother, who had died in a tragic accident.
The play will continue in rep at the National Theatre through March. For information, call 011-44-1-71-928-2252.
--By Rebecca Paller