THEATRE / The Darling Family - Old Red Lion, London N1

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The Independent Culture
Although it begins with a shocking nightmare of incestuous rape, Linda Griffiths' play is a funny and sometimes touching story of an unwanted pregnancy. The title refers to Peter Pan: the nameless couple here (Gina Landor and Kieron Jecchinis) find their dreams of eternal youth halted by the unplanned foetus. She feels touched by the mysterious alchemy of motherhood. He wants to be supportive but is wary of commitment.

As they skirt the issue of abortion, revealing their unspoken thoughts in out-front monologues, Griffiths handles the issues and emotions in a witty, though never frivolous, way. Too often, however, she goes for easy laughs at the couple's expense. Much of the actors' careful character work is damaged by late revelations of the woman's mismatched bundle of New Age neuroses and the man's adolescent bid for 'freedom'. There's also some cod-psychology thrown in.

Landor carries all this superbly though, as, in a performance of rare charm, she flits from witty pragmatist to defensive Earth Mother. Jecchinis is never quite so convincing as a man caught between his true feelings and his reconstructed credentials. But in Janine Wunsche's smooth production the real sense of a relationship between the two carries the play over its lumpy impediments.

To 24 Oct. Box office: 071-837 7816.

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