We are greeted by a magical room that has been transformed to tell a special tale upon arrival to see My Friend Peter. The room above the Arts Theatre is an enchanting setting for this play that embodies the nostalgia of childhood. A physically and emotionally overwhelming production that captures the essence of Beatrix along with each and every one of her characters from Squirrel Nutkin to Jeremy Fisher, with an imperative stop at Peter Rabbit.

As the audience make their way up the stairs of the theatre,  faint guitar and captivating whistling begins to lure us in before we even enter. There are cast members dotted around the room, with suspended pages of books from the ceiling, a magnificent muslin tree, netted leaves and a curiosity in the air. The atmosphere that has been conveyed before the show has began sets the audience up with an air of enchantment.

They begin with introducing us to a poorly little boy called Noel Moore, the original recipient of Beatrix Potter’s tale of Peter Rabbit. Jack William Brett captures the innocence and endearing nature of young Noel, while transforming into Peter Rabbit before our eyes within minutes. The ensemble interchange and adapt to rabbits and six-foot scots men with fluidity, intensity and complete embodiment of the characters. The ensemble fully immerses you on a journey back to your childhood, with Peter’s hop, jump and his little blue jacket.

The story interchanges between the tale of Beatrix’s life creating her stories, and the stories themselves. The poignant tale of Beatrix’s relationship with her publisher Norman Warne progresses and intertwines in the creation of her characters throughout, which is respectfully and gently portrayed. With the music a constant throughout, the discovery of Warne’s death was met with a melancholic and haunting accompaniment to Beatrix’s broken heart; one scene that I felt perhaps was unnecessary of words.

From my ascent up the theatre stairs I was instantly taken in by the welcoming and enticing tunes, met with a smiling face  and strange, yet warm faces. Beatrix Potter being an enigmatic and national treasure, lay feelings of apprehension prior to seeing this production; These assumptions and fears were quashed from the word go. The acting was impeccable and faultless, the constant character transformations were engaging and encapsulating and I was left with feelings of overwhelming fond memories of my childhood awakened by this awe-inspiring ensemble. Hook Hitch have created a show that adults and children alike can enjoy and relate to, regardless of having known Peter Rabbit, or perhaps this could be an initial introduction; one that will certainly leave a lasting and positive impact.

My Friend Peter is playing The Arts Theatre until June 23. For more information and tickets, see Arts Theatre website.