Peter Pan On Ice is a strange hybrid of ballet, drama, circus and, of course, ice dance. It’s miles away from the traditional pantomime but, as arctic conditions sweep the country, it seems remarkably appropriate.
JM Barrie’s classic tale of the boy who never grew up is turned into an ice ballet by a troupe of amazingly talented Russian skaters. An ice rink has replaced the Ipswich Regent stage and the first couple of rows of the stalls but it’s a tight fit. At times it seems there is a real danger that they will career into the front row.
The story is told through a series of scenes, as Barrie writes them, an outside figure observing Victorian London but occasionally taking to the ice himself to steer events. There is a small amount of voice over narration but, on the whole, it’s left to the music to drive the narrative forward. For those that know the Peter Pan story well it works but for younger members of the audience for whom the tale is not yet familiar, it may prove to be a bit confusing, perhaps explaining some of the younger members of the audience.
For older audience members, however, there is much to admire. The skating is, as you would expect from the cast’s pedigree, first class and inventive. Much use is made of the limited space and the odd inevitable slip and fall is instantly recovered.
Of course any production of Peter Pan involves flying and Peter’s entrance is suitably traditional; however, the truly impressive flying of the production revolves around some incredibly ambitious aerial rope work. The stunts these aerialists perform would be impressive on a standard stage but add in the challenge of the ice and the skill and bravery of the cast just has to be admired.
Some scenes do seem overlong and, perhaps, for wider appeal more narration would aid but. as a demonstration of world class skating, Peter Pan On Ice works well.
It may not be your traditional pantomime version of Peter Pan but there is enough spectacle and skill here to warm the most frozen heart.