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First Day in London Town

London, United Kingdom

It's now late at night, around 12:30 AM, but it's only 6:30 PM back in the states. I'm so very tired. Jet lag is a beast, but I've stayed up all day, and am ready to fall into bed and rearrange my internal clock. The only reason I'm still up writing this is that when Carly went to Belgium she said that she barely remembers anything she did the first day because she was in such a fog of sleep deprivation, so I want to get some memories down before they fly out of my head.

After I wrote my earlier entry, we went to a nearby convenience store called the Signsbury Central. It must be so easy to eat healthy in the UK if that store was any indication. The whole family stocked up on some great snacks. I now declare my new favorite food to be real brie cheese with raspberry jam on crackers. Absolutely divine. I made everyone in the family try some Malomite (an English all-vitamin sandwich spread that is very popular and similar to Australia's Vegemite) because I had tried some at camp. Mom was so disgusted that she spit it out in the sink. Carly wrinkled her nose. I nibbled on a bit of cracker with a thin layer spread over it. But Dad LOVED it. It's very salty and pungent, but extremely good for you, and apparently most kids over here grow up eating it.

To pass the time before Peter Pan, we stole away to Portobello Road, a Market road packed with bargain stores. If you've seen "Notting Hill" with Julia Roberts, you've seen Portobello Road. Carly bought a lovely bag, but I have yet to spend a pound! The exchange rate isn't the best. It's about 1.61 dollars = 1 pound. In Dublin it's a bit better. I think it's around 1.42 dollars = 1 euro. I saw a monument to the Fallen Animals that died along with British soldiers near Hyde Park (which kind of bleeds into Kensington Gardens) that was very dear.

(Hyde Park. At one end is "Speaker's Corner" which is kind of like London's Capitol Hill)

The fashion here is great. I had been really worrying about what to pack/wear when I got here, but it's not as haute couture as I was nervous it was going to be. There are skinny jeans, but they are not the only kind of jeans worn (I heard somewhere that if you wore bootcut or flares, you were automatically a tourist which false I see now). There is a general lack of graphic tees on girls, though they're pretty common for men. Guys have fashion sense here! It's a beautiful thing. As we were returning from the play tonight, we saw a lot of the young people dressed for the clubs which was mostly dresses with the occasional dressy top and skinny jeans.

Yes, we went to Peter Pan. It was a very decent performance. I am slipping into my dramatic critique mode, so the following four paragraphs are more for my benefit than for yours:

The play itself was a beautiful piece of art. The images created by the costumes, the unique theatre experience, and all the other technical elements combined made for a very visually pleasing show, but this particular production fell short in many areas. First, it completely missed pleasing it's target audience, children. The play was way too long and subtle for anyone under 11 (most parents were talking to their children during the performance to keep them occupied which created a sort of buzz of noise heard behind most of the dialogue). Also, Tiger Lily had a seduction dance that was extremely uncomfortable for the parents of little kids sitting around me. The thrusting, hip revolving number really didn't add anything to the show, and was danced with mediocre skill to a soundtrack of Tiger Lily's heavy breathing... in a word: awkward. It was completely out of character for a family oriented piece.

I'm a huge Pan Fan, so I know the book inside and out, and this performance followed J.M. Barrie's original to the letter-- which made for a very long, very slow show. I am honestly not a purist. I will not get up in arms about changes. I'm all for intelligently making cuts or alterations to a good thing to adapt it to a new medium, and that's exactly what this show lacked. The adaptation was spotty at best. Key points were missed, and I'm sure there was some things lost in translation. In the beginning of the book, Peter says that he's "never been touched and never will." Well this is complete nonsense, and it's obviously something he's made up, since he had just claimed he's never cried in his life after Wendy found him bawling on the floor about his shadow. Yet, the fact that Peter is never touched was brought up again and again in this adaptation which made for a very standoff Peter (unwarrantably so!). In addition, not once is Captain Hook called by his real name, James, it's always the abbreviation, Jas. Hook. This makes me think the adapter actually thought that Jas. was Hook's real name...

I'm thankful Peter was played by a boy, but there were no children in this performance. Some of the actor's went over the top in playing young which came off as contrived stupidity instead of trusting innocence. Michael did a very good job at acting like a little boy though body language and inflection. I really liked Wendy because she was sympathetic, motherly, but still acted like a little girl. Smee was spot on. He even had some ditties to sing. Hook and Peter were disappointments. Their performances fell flat, since their motivations were very unclear and weak. In the tradition of the play, Hook and Mr. Darling are portrayed by the same actor, and this was no exception. Unfortunately, there was no magic or love created by the Darlings to bring their children back to them from the wonder of Neverland. Despite those lackluster performances, real deliveries were given by the actress who played Tink and the puppeteer who animated Nana. Tink had dreadlocks, wore combat boots and a smudgy, grimy-looking pink tutu. And she was perfect. Whether flying, making rude gestures, or reacting to Peter or Wendy, Tink really lit up the stage. She was kind of the cross-over point between the acting and the special effects... which were absolutely breathtaking.

The play was staged in arena style, the action going on in the middle while the audience sat in an almost complete circle around it, but behind the audience and extending above their heads to complete a globelike performance space was an IMAX theatre screen. The simulation of flight in this production was unlike anything I'd ever seen. This kind of theatre was able to take us soaring over London, up to the rigging of the Jolly Rodger where Peter and Hook did battle, and then down to the depths of the Mermaid's Lagoon where a rope-artist mermaid suspended at least 15 ft. from the ground performed an acrobatic dance (similar to AMEOBA to all those Knox folks reading this). There was a spectacular score composed solely for this production. The costumes were golden. But the most fun were the puppets. Performed by the same puppeteer, there was Nana the dog, the Tick-Tock Crocodile, and a new addition to the Lost Boys, an Ostrich (Ha!). The crocodile was probably 20 ft. long. It was all on rollers, controlled by a bicycle like contraption, and it was able to reach it's huge head out into the audience, and bellow a primeval roar that shook our seats. Even though the acting left something to be desired, the technical aspects of this play simply stole the show!!! It's not a must see, but if you have (a lot of) time, I'd still suggest it just to see the amazing effects.

(I had to)

What I'm looking forward to: Tour of London Bridge tomorrow as well as a performance of STOMP!!

Thanks for reading! Comment, please!

permalink written by  Kelsey Ingle on August 15, 2009 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: A Rover in the Clover
tagged Shopping, Fashion, PeterPan and Malomite

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