‘This is a really good play,” opined a small girl in authoritative tones to her classmates just before the schools performance of Peter Pan I attend-ed at the Watermill. Perhaps she particularly agreed with the script’s defiantly politically incorr-ect line “One girl is worth more than 20 boys,” delivered by Peter himself. Of course, he is referring to Wendy, who has flown in to Neverland, where, in this adaptat-ion, Peter lives with fellow waifs Tootles, Slightly and Tiger Lily.

How does Wendy manage to fly out of her bedroom window? That’s always an intriguing question with Peter Pan, and the answer often involves a series of wires. No wires at the Watermill, however, the solution is much more magical — and it’s typical of Neil Irish’s colourful and attractive designs and scenic effects.

Peter starts on his campaign to persuade Wendy that she’d like to act as mother in Neverland, but he’s rudely interrupted when the dastardly Captain Hook comes ashore.

“What’s the smelliest part of a pirate ship?” Hook snarls. “The poop deck!” It may be the hoariest of old jokes, but it went down a treat with the Watermill audience.

Morgan Philpott’s Captain speaks with a posh accent — as you would expect from an Old Etonian such as he is. He could even be an outcast from Downton Abbey/Highclere just down the road. But underneath the bluster and bravado, you suspect that he may be a bit of a softy. I even felt a bit sorry when he was made to walk his own plank, to meet death by crocodile.

Definitely not wishing to be thought a softy is Jay Worley’s Peter. “I’m not a mummy’s boy,” he proclaims as he tries to control madcap Tootles (Ed Thorpe) and Slightly (Oliver Izod). But he’s definitely in awe of Tiger Lily (Abiola Ogunbiyi), an exotic character who sports an American Indian headdress straight out of a John Wayne western. Bronte Tadman is ideal as Wendy: full of fun, but with her head screwed on straight too.

Watermill regulars Robin Belfield and Simon Slater have supplied the adaptation, and attractive, floaty music. There are other productions of Peter Pan around this Christmas, but none, I suspect, will beat this one for getting into the spirit of J M Barrie’s original story.

Peter Pan
Watermill, Newbury
Until January 4
Tickets: Call 01635 46044 or visit watermill.org.uk