Theatre Peter Pan West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

'John Padden's excellent Peter is a spirited, careless boy, but he also carries in his countenance an ineradicable sense of sorrow that he cannot comprehend'

Peter Pan never flew my way as a child. When I did catch up with him, it was in a production that did nothing to dispel the image of a winsome piece of nursery nonsense that had arisen in the meantime. But watching Matthew Warchus's new production in Leeds, I found myself squinting so as not to glimpse a wisp of flying-wire and willing myself not to surmise how the huge Chinese dragon-style "Clockodile" was being manipulated - aching, in fact, to be a child who sees not stage craft but a world.

But craft there is and it should be honoured: the flying directed by Ben Haynes, the illusions of Paul Kieve, the lighting of Hugh Vanstone and the sound of the Playhouse's resident sorcerer, Mic Pool, all contribute to the wonder of Rob Howell's overall design. At such moments when the huge nursery windows gape wider and Peter and the children fly out into what seems to be the galaxy itself, or when a giant outflow pipe becomes mobile and disappears into the distance like a departing train leaving Peter to his fate on Marooners' Rock, adult and child are united in happy amazement.

Yet Matthew Warchus has not only applied polish to Barrie's classic. Picking up something from the RSC's reworking in the Eighties, he has produced a version that is thought-provoking and at times unsettling. John Padden's excellent Peter is a spirited, careless boy, but he also carries in his countenance an ineradicable sense of sorrow that he cannot comprehend. His famous determination never to grow up gives him freedom, especially from the demands of modern office-going manhood, but it also excludes him from a circle of social affection. His relationship with Anne-Marie Duff, who brings a Tilda Swinton-esque quizzicality to the role of Wendy, is almost touching in the way its logical development towards sexuality is balked by his fear of maturity, thwarting her desire to be a lover before she is catapulted into motherhood.

The longings of the Lost Boys for home and the tones of foreboding in Ian McDiarmid's narration - emanating from a discomfitingly Olympian slant above us - form a sense of fascinated unease. Even David Bamber's Captain Hook, though dastardly enough, has a certain vulnerability about him and reveals a curious, self-destructive sensuality when he says, lingeringly, that the Croc is "licking his lips for the rest of me".

But Warchus does not labour the psychologising, even though a subdued battle within Barrie's text between a will to think aloud about storytelling, believing and childhood and a licence to let the fantasy run is so evident. Relish in the work's extravagance suffuses the whole show and animates such fine support as Mark Hadfield's Smee, Sean Wilton's parsonical pirate, and the chipper version of Mick Hucknall that is Simon Meacock's Slightly. If you don't have a child to take, don't wait around - just go.

n To 3 February. Booking: 0113- 244 2111

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all