Tag Archives: The Sleeping Trees

Peter Pan's Labyrinth

Peter Pan’s Labyrinth


The Vaults




Peter Pan's Labyrinth

“Creaky plot apart, Peter Pan’s Labyrinth is loaded with sparkling gifts for the audience.”


If The Sleeping Trees are back in town, it must be panto time. Well, sort of. For one thing, we’ve only just climbed out of our Halloween costumes. How lucky for us that The Sleeping Trees’ by now familiar formula of mashing together well loved folk tales, allows us to enjoy November and the holiday season in a whole new way. Putting together Peter Pan with Labyrinth is certainly an eye opening take on two classic favourites. If you are curious to see what happens when Peter Pan actually does grow up, and how he manages to end up trapped in The Goblin King’s Labyrinth, hurry along to the Vaults near Waterloo Station. But don’t take the kids with you this time. Because Peter Pan’s Labyrinth is an adult panto. Besides, who wants to spend time explaining the jokes to the kids when you could be singing and dancing along with Ziggy Stardust instead?

Peter Pan’s Labyrinth is the same kind of unlikely mash up as the Sleeping Trees’ 2020 Moby Dick Whittington. Sadly, the 2022 combo isn’t quite as successful as the earlier production, even though it’s fantastic to see the Trees back on stage instead of in front of the camera. The inventive energy of the performances, the set and costume design (Maeve Black), and effortless rapport with the audience is still there. Sound design (Ben Hales) and Lighting Design (Clancy Flynn) are strong in The Vaults’ rather gloomy setting. Perhaps the plot problem is that Peter Pan’s Labyrinth really is about Peter Pan, and the Labyrinth part of the story mostly functions as a way of bringing on David Bowie in his fabulous wig and costumes. At any rate, Peter seems to spend a long time finding his way out of the Labyrinth, even if it is explained by the fact that he is now middle aged and unable to fly. Not even Kermit the Frog, and random appearances of characters from Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth are of much help to a man who has lost his job, his flat, and the fairy who used to be his best friend. It is left to the Goblin King to take pity on Peter and get him to Neverland in time to stop an unfortunate wedding. You’ve probably guessed by now who gets to be the baby that the King takes as his reward.

Creaky plot apart, Peter Pan’s Labyrinth is loaded with sparkling gifts for the audience. The biggest gift is Dan Wye as Bowie, aka the Goblin King, himself. Wye almost steals the entire show. He’s too smart to play the role as pure drag, however. What we get instead is a very elegant, ironic performance all dressed up as an entertainer who can sing beautifully. It does honour to King Goblin, and it’s just Bowie-like enough to make us remember Ziggy and hope he’s somewhere cool, enjoying Wye’s performance. Wye has some serious competition in the trio of the Sleeping Trees, naturally. James Dunnell-Smith, John Woodburn and Joshua George Smith take on the roles of Wendy, Captain Hook, and Peter — and a whole host of unexpected cameos as well. The usual comedy mayhem ensues, and the audience is invited to join in often.

Peter Pan’s Labyrinth is a fun night out—not for the family perhaps, but the Sleeping Trees also have a family friendly show, Little Red Robin Hood, coming to the Battersea Arts Centre later on in the holiday season. In the meantime, you and your friends will get lots of pleasure from singing along with The Goblin King, and enjoying some fabulously punny cocktails at the bar.


Reviewed on 3rd November 2022

by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Alex Brenner



Top shows reviewed in October 2022:


A Single Man | ★★★★ | Park Theatre | October 2022
Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan | ★★★★ | Crazy Coqs | October 2022
Hofesh Shecter: Contemporary Dance 2 | ★★★★★ | Battersea Arts Centre | October 2022
Mary | ★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | October 2022
The Choir Of Man | ★★★★ | Arts Theatre | October 2022
The Solid Life Of Sugar Water | ★★★★★ | Orange Tree Theatre | October 2022
The Two Popes | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | October 2022


Click here to read all our latest reviews


Cinderella and the Beanstalk

Cinderella and the Beanstalk


Cinderella and the Beanstalk


Reviewed – 7th December 2018



“It is controlled chaos; precise and extremely clever, but there is a joy in witnessing them teetering on the edge of losing that control”


Like the rules of cricket, but even more so; explaining the quintessentially British affair known as ‘Panto’ to the uninitiated usually meets with an expression of wide-eyed alarm and amused confusion. But let’s take this one step further. Explaining the rules of ‘The Sleeping Trees’ – the company that have brought “Cinderella and the Beanstalk” to Theatre 503 this Christmas – is a complete non-starter. You think you know Panto? Oh no you don’t!

The first thing you read in the promo material about this show is that ‘The Sleeping Trees’ are not performing. The award winning, three-piece, comedy trio are far too busy doing other stuff. They’ve done it before anyway. So, they’ve booked a forty-strong cast and musicians this year. Maybe it’s because of the slightly early start time of 7pm, but we’re perilously close to ‘beginners’ and there is only a lone guitarist on stage.

A pause. One that engenders expectation. Builds suspense. No. It is because nobody remembered to book the cast. If a slightly obvious opening gag, it is the only element of predictability in the show. What follows is two hours of offbeat, off-centre, unconventional, way-out, high-spirited, hilarious entertainment that puts a smile on your face so wide it threatens to do permanent damage to your facial muscles.

After the producers have acknowledged their error in forgetting to employ their actors, they take on the task of performing all the roles themselves. Louise Beresford, Severine Howell-Meri, Amanda Shodeko and Anna Spearpoint (the self-acclaimed only all-female panto team in London) take on all the stalwart characters, and more. It is controlled chaos; precise and extremely clever, but there is a joy in witnessing them teetering on the edge of losing that control. Which is the appeal too. These girls are clearly having so much fun it is thoroughly infectious.

Beresford, Shodeko and Spearpoint handle most of the multi-rolling with some wonderfully bizarre interpretations and mashing up of the fairy tales. If Sondheim had dropped acid and hung out with ‘Monty Python’ he would have probably come up with this instead of ‘Into the Woods’. Howell-Meri plays the ‘hired musician’ who has wandered into the scenario with a bewildered expression, much like those celebrities who were unwittingly press-ganged into a Morecambe and Wise sketch show. There are so many wonderful homages to our unique strand of comedy that stretches back through the decades; from The Goons, through to The Comic Strip and French and Saunders, Wood and Walters; with elements of Reduced Shakespeare and the ‘Play That Goes Wrong’. Yet these four add a distinctive contemporary touch too and make it their own with their individualism and idiosyncratic energy.

Carla Kingham’s direction keeps the fevered pace, challenging the stamina of the actors, not to mention the costume changes, with hilarious results. There is little point in supplying you with any hint of the narrative thread, except don’t be fooled by the title. Yes, it does centre on Cinderella and Jack (and the cow); and we do have the prince (though not as we know it) and the ugly sisters, but there’s also… oh, just pick your favourite panto character and they will be in there somewhere. Maybe not instantly recognisable but I defy anybody not to be in stitches at these portrayals. And if you’re one of those who would run a mile at the merest suggestion of ‘audience participation’; believe me, you’ll be singing along and holding hands with the stranger next to you long before interval.

Cinderella and the Beanstalk is completely bonkers but probably the most fun you will have this Christmas. If you embrace the festive season this is definitely the show to catch. If you’re a Scrooge, disparagingly looking down on the ‘Panto’ artform over your horn-rimmed spectacles; then look again. This is also definitely the show for you – you will be converted.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Claudia Marinaro



Cinderella and the Beanstalk

Theatre 503 until 5th January


Last shows reviewed at this venue:
Her Not Him | ★★★ | January 2018
Br’er Cotton | ★★★★★ | March 2018
Reared | ★★★ | April 2018
Isaac Came Home From the Mountain | ★★★★ | May 2018
Caterpillar | ★★★★ | September 2018
The Art of Gaman | ★★★★ | October 2018
#Hypocrisy | ★★★½ | November 2018


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