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National's Peter Pan has 'em Hooked

His Macbeth was great, his Iago memorable and his Richard III will go down in celluloid history. But how will Sir Ian McKellen tackle the challenging role of Captain Hook?

It may already be too late for you and your family to find out in person. For although the Royal National Theatre's new version of Peter Pan is still in the middle of technical rehearsals, the show is guaranteed to be thisChristmas's theatrical hit, with nearly all tickets sold.

"There are still some seats available for a few evenings in January, but not many," the London theatre's South Bank box office confirms.

"At the moment sales are doing just as well as Wind in the Willows did, or before that, Guys and Dolls."

The new staging of Peter Pan, which also stars Jenny Agutter as Mrs Darling, is a revival of the Trevor Nunn/John Caird production - the first to shed all the pantomime flummery and go straight for the dark, strange heart of J M Barrie's original story.

Consequently, Peter Pan himself will be played, not by a woman in tights, in the established tradition, but by the young and little-known actor Daniel Evans. His Wendy is Claudie Blakley.

Sir Ian says he took on the double role of the villainous pirate and Wendy's father, Mr Darling, because Peter Pan was the first play he ever saw.

This production, he believes, will not skirt around some of the more baffling and even disturbing elements of a play in which, after all, he is destined to end up living in a kennel with a Newfoundland dog called Nana.