Edinburgh Fringe 2012
"Defeat the T-rex with Peter and real swords! Fly with the Pterodactyl! Bombard Captain Hook with dinosaur droppings!".Awelcome return for this jurassic, interactive show for kids.
Join Peter Pan, Wendy and a few new characters in a tale that blends the classic J. M. Barrie world with time travel and dinosaurs. Spotlites Theatre company bring their signature blend of interactive theatre to the Fringe with three protean performers playing all the parts, including rather believable dinosaurs! I intend to give none of the story away suffice to say there’s plenty to fire the imagination and that the flavour of Barrie’s original is not lost in this rework.
Interactive theatre is no gimick in a Spotlites production. It is one of the foundation stones of the style. The interaction involves children being invitied onto the stage to "help" one of the characters. Sometimes we, the entire audience, also help from where we are sitting. This help is never pointless and always serves the flow of the narrative. It draws the children in, no one is forced to get involved, but most do and want to, partly, because they want to step onto a stage that’s so carefully designed, and engage with characters that are so accessible.
The narrative flows, quick-paced throughout, the characters are played with commitment and are inhabited fully. The dinosaurs are always a favourite, with a Jurassic Park feel, they are innovatively designed, fly wonderfully and successfully in the face of CGI, and are also believable because of the care put into their sound and movement. One of the children we brought whispered to me that they weren’t "real" and then proceeded to sit, open-mouthed, utterly entranced and clearly watching dinosaurs at work! What Spotlites achieved there is to lift that child temporarily out of a cynicism that children are sadly developing at a younger and younger age. They gave her her dreams back for a few minutes. What a priceless gift.
In this production there is a bit of sweet giving as thank-yous and rewards for helping and I’d like to suggest this isn’t necessary. In these calculative times of "do this and you’ll get that", children are exposed enough to these forms of reward. What was special about Merlin’s Dragon, their other show at the Fringe, was that a simple thank you for helping sufficed, and this was such a gift in its own right to the children in the audience. What if we only do things because it is the right thing to do, and not because there’s a sweet or a coin at the end of it?
Captain Hook, a new Tinkerbell, Wendy, Smee, to name but a few, the story is one of good against evil, but there are also themes about growing up, accepting life and death, and about fairness, truthfulness and kindness. This is another aspect of Spotlites’ genius – to offer up action that stands skilfully set between the world of modern film and traditional story. The children go away entertained, but also deepened by a theatre experience that is all down to inventive props and scenery, generosity of spirit in the way the story is offered and acted, a sense that we are better for helping each other, and a belief that things can reach resolution when we try to do the right thing, whatever that is in our unique situations in life.
Warm-hearted, sometimes a bit scary, engaging and fun, Peter Pan on Dinosaur Island is full of wonderful things. Second star on the right, and straight on until Spotlites. Take your 5 to 12s – they’ll love this production.