I always think of The Vaults (situated somewhere beneath the rail lines at Waterloo) as a cool if not entirely comfortable venue. A series of tunnels, bright graffiti, neon lighting – it’s edgy for sure and a hive for exciting new theatre in an unusual space. So, the set up for Peter Pan’s Labyrinth surprised me, although pleasantly so. Set up cabaret style with its own bar and themed cocktails, the effect is welcoming and cosy and were it not for the lack of phone signal I could easily have forgotten where I was. While Peter Pan’s Labyrinth doesn’t necessarily embrace its natural setting, the production itself is edgy and fun and definitely fits The Vaults’ loud, non-conformist vibe.
The plot is, simply, daft – Peter Pan needs to get back to Neverland to stop Tinkerbell’s wedding, so must journey to the centre of David Bowie’s Labyrinth so that his wish to fly again can be granted. But – spoiler alert – this show is basically an hour and a half of joyful, bonkers comedy. The storyline is just a loose device that allows adult Peter Pan (James Dunnell-Smith) to encounter a range of characters from Labyrinth, Pan’s Labyrinth and elsewhere while David Bowie (Dan Wye) throws hurdles in his path and narrates along the way. Wye is dry and commanding, almost understated compared to the delightfully chaotic energy brought by Joshua George Smith and John Woodburn who play a host of favourites from the aforementioned films. Dunnell-Smith’s slightly rough-around-the-edges fully grown Man-Pan has all the pathos you’d expect, and the ridiculousness and crude humour had me in stitches throughout. And I’m a pretty tough crowd – but honestly, this was proper belly-laugh territory, and I could tell that everyone around me was enjoying themselves as much as I was.
As far as the cast goes, for me there wasn’t one stand out performance. It’s truly an ensemble piece with everyone keeping the energy high, the crowd engaged and the laughs coming. Throw in a few classic 80s tunes and a ‘Drinkerbell’ or two and you’ve got yourself a fun evening. Definitely not for a younger audience, but I’d say Peter Pan’s Labyrinth is a full-on glorious experience rather than just a show, and as the nights grow darker and colder, we grown-ups could definitely do with a bit of magic in our lives.
Peter Pan’s Labyrinth runs until 31st December, https://www.thevaults.london/peter-pans-labyrinth
Reviewer: Zoë Meeres
Reviewed: 5th November 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★