Theatre preview: Peter Pan, Park Theatre, Finsbury Park

Peter Pan at Park theatre

Peter Pan at Park theatre - Credit: Archant

Versailles and Merlin star Alex Vlahos takes on the double role of Mr Darling and Captain Hook in an updated version of JM Barrie’s original play

The Park Theatre will be using flying equipment for the first time to stage the original version of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan.

Jonathan O’Boyle’s production updates the 1904 play to modern times with Mr Darling as a stressed out stockbroker forever on his iPhone.

Versailles star Alex Vlahos doubles the role with Captain Hook. And since the TV actor has “had enough of curly wigs and heels,” Hook will sport straight hair, a beard and Vlahos’ own Welsh accent.

“I didn’t want to do a musical or a panto at this point in my career so I had reservations,” says the Canonbury resident.

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“But what sold it to me was that before the book, the Panto, the movie versions and Disneyfication, there was this original form of the story.

“We’ve updated it to 2018 with the Darlings as a young family with three kids living in London and trying to make it work.

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Mr Darling loves his kids but he’s the breadwinner and has lots of responsibility, which makes it very modern.

“Although there is still lots of colour and fantasy it’s set in a very real world.”

Vlasos feels Barrie’s story has become “diluted” over the decades through its many incarnations.

“It’s actually incredibly dark. Mrs Darling remembers Peter Pan as a boy who takes children to heaven. It’s about death, children, growing up and how time is so precious.

“There is that parental feeling of ‘why can’t you stay like this forever’ but also an inevitability about adulthood and maturity.”

As for Hook, Vlahos has conceived him as less a narcissistic dandy with a twizzly moustache, and more “a trawlerman in leather apron with vengeance on his mind”.

“There is fun to be had with his double act with Smee, but essentially he wants Peter Pan.”

Vlahos adds that the production team are really pushing the boat out to bring the wow factor to the Park.

“You can’t have Peter Pan without flying and they are building a new rig for us. Although the story is rooted in the real world with dark undertones, it’s still in the realm of a family Christmas show and we hope the fairy dust will go a long way.”

The 30-year-old, who wrapped Versailles after three seasons playing Louis XIV’s gay younger brother Philippe D’Orleans, says he was happy to hang up his wig.

“Between every season of Versailles my first port of call was to go back to the stage. I didn’t go into acting to go on TV, the plan was always to go on stage.

“Although you make money from TV and build your profile I never felt comfortable with it. It saps the soul of any creativity.

And besides Philippe was “an enormous bag of baggage” to live with for three years.

“I had the most amazing time but it did take its toll on me mentally to play someone who bascially has PTSD. I do miss the camaraderie of the set, but I don’t miss him.”

Peter Pan runs at Park Theatre from December 5 to Jan 5.

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