This production brings to the stage Prokofiev’s traditional story of a boy, Peter, and how he saves his friends from the wolf which dominates his grandfather’s meadow. However this version has a whole new act added on at the beginning, a prequel with a new score. The orchestra was the Philharmonia Orchestra who played really well and obviously enjoyed the piece and the audience’s positive reaction. Brian Blessed takes us on the journey with Peter as he narrates the story. He starts with an introduction of the setting portrayed by different instruments. In Act Two the characters were represented by the instruments, for example Peter was introduced by the strings and the bird by the flute. There were two different sets which were simple but effective and the dancers used them to the full. The choreography was extremely good and tells the story in an almost panto style with strong pair work. The wolf was played really well. He was strong and agile and the lighting along with the change of music when he came on made you sit up and at once realise who he was. The first act tells the audience why each animal is in his grandfather’s meadow and why they are friends with Peter. It was there to make the production a full length show as the actual story only takes half an hour to perform. I felt that by doing this they were trying to make sense of a story that wouldn’t actually happen in the real world. The original story is accepted by all as a fairytale and by giving the characters motives and backgrounds you try to make sense of the nonsensical. The costumes were very cleverly made and immediately told us who was on stage and even added a comical touch. The wolf eats the duck and this is probably the hardest part to show in a live performance that has four year olds in the audience. They pulled it off very well as the duck slid behind the wolf and to add a kind of black humour as a finishing touch, the wolf spits out some of the duck’s feathers resulting in a huge audience reaction.

Overall it must have been very hard to extend what is normally a very short piece to a 75 minute production and while the first half was good, the second half was great. Brian Blessed really pulled the whole show together and kept it running through the technical errors with the sound system in the first fifteen minutes. The audience clearly loved it and the show was a great success.

By Allie Sumners (age 13)

Allie visited the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury to see the production of Peter and the Wolf performed with soloists from the Philharmonia Orchestra on 22nd March 2008.