Peter Pan

London Kensington Gardens and 02 and US Tour


In November 2008 Ben was invited to join Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens as Director. The project, conceived by the producers Mat Churchill and Charlie Burnell, was created in a purpose-built £1m tent, which seats up to 1300 people in the round. The scenic design, created by Bill Dudley, is projected on the inner surfaces of the tent in 360 degrees, a world first in integrating CGI and theatre on this scale. Ben brought in the creatives Tanya Ronder (text) Sue Buckmaster (puppetry) and Fleur Darkin (choreography) to shape the production that was designed to be as true as possible to Barrie’s heartbreaking vision of the boy who would not grow up. By staging the production in Kensington Gardens, the site of Peter’s original adventures, and where Barrie first met the Llwellyn Davies boys who inspired the story, we brought the piece alive in its original spiritual home.

Ben developed the piece over three weeks of script and aerial workshop in January and six weeks of rehearsal and technical rehearsal in April/May.

An outstanding cast led by Jonathan Hyde as Hook/Mr. Darling, Ciaran Kellgren as Peter, Abby Ford as Wendy and Itxaso Moreno as Tinkerbell ensured the success of the production which married the large scale spectacle of circus arts, CGI and epic music, with the more intimate elements of storytelling and Poor Theatre technique.

Ben’s first venture into commercial theatre was the second-highest grossing show of the London summer theatre season and played to over 150,000 people.

It is transferring to the Meridian Gardens at the O2 for a limited six-week season prior to a 20 month US tour in 2010. A second production is due to tour New Zealand and the Far East in 2011.

Michael Coveney, The Independent

How we cheered…the big top atmosphere is perfect is perfect for Peter and the Darling children to fly through the air on elaborate coat-hangers,and they are joined by a sparkling, aerial Tinkerbell in a pink tutu and permanent scowl, and some wonderful post-War Horse puppetry…sensationally complemented by William Dudley’s wrap-around cinematic projections…but none of this swamps the dramatic content…Peter is devilishly embodied by Ciaran Kellgren…the best new actor I’ve seen this year, and he is perfectly matched by the more experienced Abby Ford as Wendy, a girl-woman who embraces her caring destiny with deadly seriousness…very well directed by site-specific specialist Ben Harrison…and Captain Hook is restored to rip-roaring mock-tragedian status in Jonathan Hyde’s performance .

Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph

It feels, thrillingly, as if we are flying with them. This is a Peter Pan that often made me gasp. . Jonathan Hyde is a memorably self-pitying, mother fixated Old Etonian bully…Ciaran Kellgren has a fine, feral quality as Peter, reminding one that Barrie memorably described children as ‘gay and innocent and heartless’

Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

Ben Harrison’s production provides the crucial undercurrent of Wendy’s burgeoning sexual desires and Peter’s insistent denial of the same…Ciaran Kellgren gives Peter real grace…an accomplished evening.

Paul Callan, Daily Express

It works on all levels. In fact, there are times when this extremely lively, sometimes even aggressive version of Peter Pan – cleverly adapted by Tania Ronder – is more engineering than theatre. The most stunning aspect of this is the massive 360-degree digital screen, projected in 3D, which is wrapped around the whole pavilion. It works magically when the Darling children, whose adventure all this is, fly over the rooftops of London on the way to Never Never Land…Abby Ford is greatly appealing as Wendy and she manages to project herself into the part of the young, wide-eyed girl with considerable ease. This is a young actress to watch. But, of course, Jonathan Hyde just dominated the round, lively stage as a particularly evil, panic-stricken Captain Hook. Playing comic villains always needs a sure touch and Jonathan Hyde never missed a beat. ..a gem to be enjoyed whether you are eight, 18 or 80.

Kat Brown, The London Paper

utterly magical… staggeringly impressive… Itxaso Moreno’s delightful punk Tinkerbell… Jonathan Hyde’s richly comic Captain Hook…Peter Pan is a dizzying, joyous flight of fancy.

Nina Saville, British Modern Theatre

Peter Pan as interpreted by Ciaran Kellgren has a kinetic energy and feral spirit that fascinates the audience; at times it is reminscent of the late Michael Jackson. Itxaso Moreno’s Tinkerbell is positively mesmeric; an incredible mixture of grimaces and grace with her continental shrugs and gamine appearance. Mr Darling, played by the excellent Jonathan Hyde, who doubles as Captain Hook, is bravely unsympathetic in both roles, as he should be. His Darling is selfish and immature and forever seeking the respect of his family. The ejection of Nana the family dog who guards the nursery is executed with a violent ferocity. His Captain Hook is an equally insightful portrayal; a monster more melancholic than menacing, brandishing his metal claw which appears finally as a symbol of impotence. Ultimately the success of the evening belongs to the technical wizardry of an incredibly accomplished group headed by director Ben Harrison whose mix of past and present theatrical staging is to be greatly admired together with William Dudley’s organic set, costumes and 3D projection design setting a new standard in modern theatre escapism.

Daily Mail

An awfully big adventure. Breathtaking.

Elaine Page, BBC Radio 2

Fantastic. An absolute must-see.

Simon Bates, Classic FM

Spectacular. Fantastic show, a wonderful cast, brilliantly done, some of the most exciting visuals I ever seen, and a star in the making- Itxaso Moreno…she is brilliant, a slightly bad-tempered Tinkerbell but done with great style.