How is it that Peter Pan can’t grow up? Where did that nettlesome little fairy come from? Why would anyone name a dog “Nana”? Was Captain Hook ever without a mustache to twirl?
“Peter and the Starcatcher,” a cheeky imagining of Peter Pan’s backstory, cooks up some answers in a play both familiar and new.
The major characters are there, only our main guy Pete goes by "Boy," his arch nemesis calls himself "Black Stache," and instead of Wendy there’s her predecessor, Molly — a 13-year-old firecracker who sets foot on Neverland before it was called Neverland.
“Peter and the Starcatcher” takes place in the era of Queen Victoria—God save her!—but the script shines in contemporary jest, complete with an Ayn Rand zinger (a horrible person “out to destroy the world”) and asides worthy of Wes Anderson’s quirkiest characters. It may attract a Leap Frog crowd, but just like high school freshmen missing penis euphemisms in “Romeo and Juliet,” only an adult audience can fully appreciate “Peter and the Starcatcher” for all its wit.
Not to say that it’s perfectly consistent--although the fart jokes did amuse the young ones during a recent showing--but a deeper familiarity compels even more than the humor. Watching this bare-bones performance, with the most special effects being the lighting and some pre-recorded sounds, the sensation of bygone shenanigans in one’s childhood home sinks in. Fluttering curtains become exotic islands. Ropes shape into architectural frameworks. Red buckets transform into giant alligator eyes. Glitter turns into magical “star stuff.”
The 12 actors, all male except one, are all fabulously silly, serious, mischievous or whatever their multiple roles call for. Megan Stern amazes with the insouciant charge and protofeminist sass she injects into Molly’s character. She’s the titular Starcatcher, after all, and while Peter refuses to mature, Molly does. Grown-up with a sweet spot for childhood nostalgia, just like this production.