Finding Neverland – Review
Ever since the announcement was made that Oscar and Tony Award winning Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was to transform the 2004 Finding Neverland movie into a theatrical show, expectations were sky high.
From attracting celebrities like Bono and the Edge and rumours of Gwyneth Paltrow taking up the leading role, the production has certainly given the Curve theatre’s profile a huge boost.
Director and choreographer Rob Ashford tells a half-true, half-imagined biopic of the famous writer and playright J M Barrie. The show opens with a visual of Barrie on a pirate ship, who is ready to be thrown over board after the failure of his previous play The Wedding Guest. We understand that we are watching a man who’s imagination knows no bounds, a man who is constantly battling with his own inner pirate, a man who’s heart is torn with feelings for the woman he imagines (Sylvia) and the woman he has married (Mary).
The show features some great moments including provocative dancing by Marie, heart felt exchanges between Sylvia and Barrie as they read out their letters to one another, some comic Scottish dancing and some sweet moments between Barrie and the four ‘lost boys’ as he takes them on a journey to the countryside and teaches them to fly a kite. However, the show stealing moments in particular were the encounters between Barrie and his own inner pirate.
The set design team should particularly get some credit. The interiors of the Barrie household had a feeling of grandeur while the pirate ship and classic motorcar both felt so real. The stairway to heaven covered in hundreds of flowers looked breathtakingly beautiful and the addition of a real life Porthos was an extra added bonus. With a set so stylish it was easy to see why such a big production company was involved.
Michael Korie and Scott Frankel’s songs were pleasing on the ear, with my picks being ‘The English Rose’, ‘James Never Mentioned’ and ‘Lost Boys’.
Julian Ovenden was superbly cast as Barrie and you really did feel like he was the little boy who just did not want to grow up. Rosalie Craig portrayed the warmth of a mother to perfection, whilst showing her character’s vulnerability. Oliver Boot provided more than a few laughs for the audience as both the arrogant critic Maximillian Blunt and Hook. The four boys however, really stole the show.
Finding Neverland will surely be making its way to the West End soon, and with plenty of style, some quality acting, a few comic laughs and a lavish set, this one is a treat for the whole family.
Photo credits: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg