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Scoop Review: Royal NZ Ballet’s Peter Pan

Scoop Review: Royal NZ Ballet’s Peter Pan

By Sara Root

It is not simply a sense of unaffected nostalgia incited by the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s interpretation of the childhood classic Peter Pan, but a deeper conglomeration of post youth enlightenment, combined with a sense of personal re-evaluation.

Photos By Maarten Holl

Tinker Bell, Peter Pan and Wendy.

The initial toned down and slightly muted movement of Mr and Mrs Darling and the immortal Darling family does more to establish the juxtaposition between the preliminary setting and Neverland than the physical attributes decorating the set itself.

It is this subconscious paranoia of falling victim to the conformity of societal expectations and growing up that pervades the performance, which is most clearly articulated through the characters of Peter Pan and his ever-present sidekick, Tinkerbell.

Pan, of course, is the child who never grows up, who stumbles into the world of the Darlings in an attempt to capture his detached shadow.


Symbolisms within Peter Pan are most often lost on one as a child. But as an adult, clarity reveals Freudian analysis and much more. I am sure Freud would argue that Pan’s Oedipal refusal to grow up whilst indulging in escapist ideology caused Pan a touch of subconscious conflict. And indeed Pan is fraught between two contradictory worlds marked by two distinctive female characters.

An emphasis on the relationship of Tinkerbell and Peter initiates tension between the former and Wendy – an essential tension which carves out a struggle between reality and the imagined world. The vivid expression and emotion characterizing Neverland is expressed through Tinkerbell’s lively, unrestrained gestures.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s
Jane Turner captivates the role with grace and animated enthusiasm; a Tinkerbell whose presence alone mesmerizes the audience.

Peter Pan, played by Shannon Smith, offers a similar seductive charisma through his passionate, youthful portrayal.

The magnetism of the individual characters extends into the ensemble performances of the Lost Boys and Captain Hook’s pirates.

Neverland is a world that is charged with the very youthful energy that the ‘real world’ is lacking - and rather than necessarily warning the individual against the trappings of that youth, Russell Kerr’s Peter Pan kindles a desire to rediscover it in oneself.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s performance captures all the essential elements of this classic tale, and through movement, form, grace of dance draws from the observer a renewed sense of escape.

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