…Ten Lords a-Leaping. Lucky old me!
Over Christmas I went to see the Bristol Old Vic’s anarchic and inventive production of Peter Pan. Rather than have conventional flying, Peter, Wendy and the Lost Boys used bungee ropes to convey the magic of their flight to Neverland, which was set in a graffiti-strewn urban back alley, with plenty of lords a leaping, tumbling and skirmishing.

There was none of the sentimentality of JM Barrie’s original, but Tristram Sturrock’s wild eyed, athletic Peter was mesmerising. The reason I’m talking about it in a creative writing blog is that it demonstrates the power and potential of revisiting an established idea and turning it on its head. I went with my nephews, Gabriel (nine) and Louis (six) – hello boys – and they were as open-mouthed with wonder as I was at this old story turned into something new and bold and original. Don’t be afraid to take risks with your work, to be subversive, and remember that originality doesn’t necessarily mean coming up with something no one else has thought of, but can be most potent when you re-examine something familiar with a fresh eye. That’s often what takes the breath away.

As a little postscript, my great-grandfather was an actor called Arthur Whitby and he played the Rev George Amy in the original production of Mary Rose, also by JM Barrie.  Arthur asked Barrie if he would go and see my grandmother in a play as she was just beginning her career in the theatre. Here is the great man’s reply.

He says, “Yes I shall go in and see your girl one night. And be very interested to see a child of yours. I didn’t know that Mr Amy had any family but I have just now enlarged the vicarage and plumbed in a charming bathroom. You might suggest this in your performance. (I believe you could do it).”

All Barried out now – see you next week!