Watermill - Peter Pan in Scarlet
8th October 2006.
From the Newbury Weekly News.
Watermill clocks up another first
Author chooses her favourite theatre for premiere reading of Peter Pan in Scarlet
Peter Pan in Scarlet, at The Watermill, on Sunday October 8
There was more than a touch of autumn about The Watermill. for not only were red leaves scattered on the floor, but several of the audience had opted to wear scarlet for what the theatre's executive director James Sargant described as "this special occasion" - the world premiere of the reading of Geraldine McCaughrean's sequel to J. M. Barrie's children's classic, Peter Pan - Peter Pan in Scarlet.
The author had opted to do this, the only reading, at her favourite theatre and had taken along with her four actors plus the required scarlet coat, waistcoat of leaves and a very friendly-looking bear outfit, to bring excerpts from the new book to life. And what fun it was.
Of course the author herself was the narrator, occasionally turning into Tootles, for each actor read a variety of parts. Carl Callow made Peter Pan the energetic, rather annoying go-getter that he always was, Simon Kay the peaceful, slightly bewildered John, brother to Wendy (Ailsa McCaughrean successfully making her mother's new take on Wendy livelier and more opinionated than before) and deep-voiced Richard Morant, hung about with 'a tall cardigan' unravelling at every other stitch, as circus owner Ravello enjoying a wonderful rant about mothers and their incompetence. Geraldine redresses the balance later in the book.
Being a best-selling children's author is not all glamour - Geraldine hunted the Oxfam shops for weeks to find woollies to unravel.
Children - and the grown-ups they had brought - especially loved director Will Wollen as an enormous, beautiful bear, lumbering in and out of the auditorium at Ravello's command.
The afternoon was topped off by Clive Stewart-Lockhart auctioning Peter Pan-connected items donated by Geraldine for enthusiastic bidders.
Top price of £260 went to a copy of one of J. M. Barrie's books, signed by the author, but most impressive was the enormous hook (£150) used by Jason Isaacs in the 2003 film of Peter Pan.
All proceeds from the event (nearly £1,500) were shared between Great Ormond Street Hospital and The Watermill.
Afterwards, the foyer was packed with people clutching copies of the new book for the author to sign. For her, and for all of us, it had been an extraordinary afternoon.