Sunday, 8 December 2013

Peter Pan and WW1

The other night we went to the opening of "Peter Pan" which is this year's Christmas Pantomime in our local theatre.  This was the first time I had seen a performance of "Peter Pan" since reading "Peter Pan's XI The Extraordinary Story of J.M. Barrie's Cricket Team" (by Kevin Telfer, Sceptre, London, 2010) as part of my research for WW1 Commemorative Exhibitions.   It was very clear to me from watching the play the other night that Barrie was Peter Pan. As Telfer  says: "Barrie himself later speculated that perhaps he was the real-life embodiment of Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up, as much as any real boy ..." (p. 17).  I feel certain that Barrie would approve of the production we saw.

I could not help wondering what happened to the cast members of the first play in 1904.  And I kept thinking how poignant it was that George Llewelyn Davies - one of the boys Barrie looked after following the death of their parents and for whom he devised the sort of adventures embodied in his play "Peter Pan" - was killed on The Western Front in World War One on 15th March 1915. Geoge's brother, Peter who took part in the Battle of the Somme, was invalided home suffering from shell-shock, returned to the front and was awarded a Military Cross (MC).

During WW1, Barrie worked at the British Government's Propaganda Bureau, along with writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, E.V. Lucas, Thomas Hardy, G.K. Chesterton, H.G. Wells and John Buchan - Conan Doyle and Lucas having been members of Barrie's recreational Cricket Team.

Picture:  "Grand Theatre" - an original watercolour by Geoff Winch the artist.

From Review of "Peter Pan" Best Kept Secrets, 6th December 2013 -

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