Previewed 9 March 2013, Opened 25 March 2013, Closed 1 June 2013 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London
World Premier John Logan's new play Peter and Alice in London starring Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw and directed by Michael Grandage.
When Alice Liddell Hargreaves met Peter Llewelyn Davies at the opening of a Lewis Carroll exhibition in 1932, the original Alice in Wonderland came face to face with the original Peter Pan. In John Logan's remarkable new play, enchantment and reality collide as this brief encounter lays bare the lives of these two extraordinary characters.
The cast for Peter and Alice in London stars Judi Dench as 'Alice Liddell Hargreaves' and Ben Whishaw as 'Peter Llewelyn Davies' with Nicholas Farrell as 'Lewis Carroll' and Derek Riddell as 'JM Barrie'. The production is directed by Michael Grandage with designs by Christopher Oram, lighting by Paule Constable and music and sound by Adam Cork. John Logan's previous West End credits include Never the Sinner, about the infamous 1920s Leopold and Loeb murder case, at the Playhouse Theatre in 1990 and Red, about the American artist Mark Rothko, at the Donmar Warehouse in 2009. Ben Whishaw made his West End debut playing the title role in Trevor Nunn's production of Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Old Vic Theatre in 2004. Dame Judi Dench has appeared in numerous productions in London West End, including most recently Gregory Doran's revival of Shakepeare's All's Well That Ends Well for the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Gielgud Theatre in 2004, Sir Peter Hall's revival of Noel Coward's Hayfever at the Haymarket Theatre in 2006 and Michael Grandage's production of Yukio Mishima's play Madame de Sade for the Donmar Warehouse at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2009. John Logan's plays include Red, about the painter Mark Rothko, which was staged at the Donmar Warehouse in 2009.
"Peter And Alice, John Logan's enchanting new play, speculates on a conversation between Peter Llewelyn Davies - one of the five brothers who as children inspired J. M. Barrie`s Peter Pan - and Alice Hargreaves, for whom Lewis Carroll wrote Alice ln Wonderland... Logan's play becomes a meditation on the death of innocence, on mortality, on fantasy versus reality, issues we all have to come to terms with, if not so publicly nor so painfully as Peter and Alice, who were celebrities of sorts in their time... Dench is dazzling. Though tart, her grown-up Alice is much more sympathetic than her fictional counterpart. Logan suggests that it wasn't being Alice In Wonderland that made her drown her sorrows in laudanum, it was her decision to marry conventional country squire Reggie. and to bury her ambitions of becoming Jane Austen and then two of her sons, who were killed in the First World War. Whishaw's shell-shocked Peter is similarly haunted, by three deaths; that of his father, from monstrously disfiguring jaw cancer; of his brother George in the war, and of another brother, Michael, from drowning. Images of pools of tours abound in Michael Gmndage's moving production." The Mail on Sunday
"[John Logan's] dramatisation of what followed from Alice Liddell Hargreaves's real-life encounter with Peter Llewelyn Davies in a bookshop - she was Lewis Carroll's inspiration for Alice, he was J M Barrie's for Peter Pan - is about growing older, love, loss, joy, sorrow and how we are all shaped by our childhoods. It is an odd, unwieldly piece with its raw edges and unresolved themes, but it is necessarily so because it is about life - and that, of course, is how life is. Dame Judi Dench, in her mink and her big hat, is wonderfully cast as Alice... she achieves an edgy chemistry with Ben Whishaw's bookish and rather anxious Peter at their first meeting, when they realise how their lives have both been shaped by two famous writers. The musty, old-fashioned bookshop with its stained skylights is a claustrophobic place thanks to Christopher Oram's superb design... Less is sometimes so much more when it comes to directing and Michael Grandage recognises it is the words that make this piece come alive. He more or less leaves his two principals to it... This is bold, original, daring theatre that is unquestionably touched by greatness." The Sunday Telegraph
"What is it like to be fictionalised as a child, only to spend your life as an adult apparently a great disappointment to your creator and everyone else? Such is the central theme of John Logan's new play... The acting from the two leads is immaculate. Ben Whishaw's hand-wringing torment as Llewelyn Davies is painfully visible beneath the thin carapace of tweedy politeness, and Judi Dench is riveting as a severe, brown-brogued old battle-axe of an Alice, not quite embittered, but wearily disillusioned with the world... The play is a sequence of poignant episodes and sad revelations, but Logan never quite stitches them into a drama, and characters tend to speak in alternating soliloquies, rather than dialogue... Michael Grandage's direction is exquisite, as usual, and Christopher Oram's set suitably magical." The Sunday Times
Peter and Alice in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 9 March 2013, opened on 25 March 2013 and closed on 1 June 2013.