Peter Pan - Northern Ballet Theatre

Eve StebbingNorwich Theatre RoyalEve Stebbing

Norwich Theatre Royal

There are times when you get the chance to really let the child in you free. Northern Ballet Theatre's production of Peter Pan is one of them.

NBT has an impressive record of touring ambitious new work all over the world - this show is bound for Hong Kong - and in a blink of an eye, the company will be on the road with Dangerous Liaisons.

Even so, Peter Pan nearly didn't fly out of Leeds, with sets so lavish and large that they only just made it down the bumpy A11.

Thank goodness the tarmac held up: for this was not just great contemporary ballet, it was great storytelling.

With a famous tale, you always find yourself waiting to see whether your favourite moments will match up to your imaginings - and they did. Peter dived through the window, dressed all in green, swooping upwards and floating about the children's room exactly as I had always envisaged; Captain Hook had just the dynamic, handsome flair to make a perfect villain in his swing back coat with his curly black hair, and as the children made their way across a star spangled sky, white birds flapped beneath with perfect fairytale sorcery.

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The dancing is right on the cusp of ballet and physical theatre: and it's clear that the young dancers enjoy the freedom this brings. The acting is superb; but what's unusual is the interplay between performer and set.

These are moving pictures: like the illustrated pages of a storybook literally coming alive - and the playful use of materials, be it mermaids' tails or holes in rocks, tell of a real artist's know-how on the part of the directors: David Nixon and Patricia Doyle.

For the theatre historian, it's a bit like a modern day Masque.

But there's also a very modern day sense of carnival and circus, underlined by a sensational score by Stephen Warbeck, which makes this ballet at it's most spectacular, and accessible.

t To May 1. Box office: 01603 630000 or www.norwichtheatreroyal.co.uk

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