If you think about it," says playwright David Greig of the new version of JM Barrie's classic fairy-tale he has authored for the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS), "Peter Pan is the story of a very middle-class girl on the cusp of adulthood. In through her bedroom window climbs a runaway boy, a feral child, who says to this girl, 'come with me to an underworld, run away from home and join me in another land.' He's attractive, he's magical, but she isn't allowed to touch him. Yet still she chooses to follow. Now when I think of how I would cast and play that story, it wouldn't be Bonnie Langford in tights."
Speaking from the NTS's rehearsal space in Govan, Greig – whose plays include Damascus, San Diego and last year's Edinburgh hit Midsummer (A Play With Songs) – enthuses about the size and ambition of this, the organisation's big spring show.
John Tiffany, who took control of the NTS's breakout hit, Black Watch, instigated this project. But rather than blithely trying to recreate the "once in a generation" success of Tiffany's most famous play, Greig asserts their intention to create something new and powerful on its own terms, and to reclaim the tale as a Scots one. Barrie was from Kirriemuir.
The movement of the framing scenes from Edwardian to Victorian England is intended to give the play a darker edge. "The problem with a lot of work for children is that it's actually work for parents," says Greig, "in that it tells them children are sweet and innocent, and that they never worry about love or death, are never attracted by violence, never feel fear. The whole family goes along and everyone's happy – aside from the children, who are bored witless. So I don't think we've created a Peter Pan for adults: I think we've truly reclaimed it for children."
To 8 May, King's Theatre, Glasgow; 12 to 29 May, Barbican Centre, London; then on national tour (nationaltheatrescotland.com)Reuse content