Sleeping Trees are well known for their mash-up creations such as Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers and Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves. This time round, they combined 80’s cult classic Labyrinth with family favourite Peter Pan and Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth to create Peter Pan’s Labyrinth.

The show opens with Peter (James Dunnell-Smith) leaving Neverland for the final time – I’m unsure whether this scene was necessary, as I’m sure we could have all guessed he was an older Peter without it. We’re then introduced to Peter 20 years later, and as the synopsis states, he now smokes, drinks, and lives off a diet of creamed Possum (look it up) and Bovril. None of this is seen by the audience, however; he’s just Peter Pan with a little belly showing. He then meets David Bowie’s Goblin King (Dan Wye), and must find the centre of the labyrinth, meeting a host of weird and wonderful creatures along the way.

Housed within the tunnel setting of The Vaults Theatre, while the set design by Maeve Black does the job well, I did feel that if you were sat towards one side of the stage you couldn’t fully appreciate the whole staging. Plus, staff and any mid-show toilet goers had to cut across in front of the stage, which felt slightly annoying. Due to the staging, it meant that sometimes when an actor was offstage, they were still visible behind the bar, which was used as part of the stage. This did detract some of the theatre magic.

The show’s plot is difficult to follow at times, and the production feels slightly chaotic. With cameos from Kermit the Frog, who turns into Prince when kissed and sings ‘Purple Rain,’ a Toilet in the middle of the labyrinth and Hands for Eyes – it’s easy to find yourself lost in the labyrinth of the show’s story. Bowie’s songs are also incorporated and parodied throughout the show, with ‘Heroes’ turning into ‘We Could Eat Churros.’

The absolute highlight of the show is the Shadow of Peter Pan played by Wye, who is hilarious! The rest of the humour throughout the show was quite predictable and literal. There was one joke in particular that felt in very poor taste. This is a show which is targeting itself towards an adult audience; however, they could have leaned into satire much more to ramp up the hilarity of the production.

I had really high hopes for this production – and whilst it’s a great concept, it requires some polishing before it’s a final product. The humour could be better thought out, and the storyline needs some cohesion to not leave audience members behind along the way. It does feel slightly as though it was pieced together at the last minute without someone thinking it through.  This is a good show to see if you fancy something slightly different this festive season – amongst the countless Christmas Carols and pantomimes, The Vaults has something unique.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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