Saturday, April 12, 2014

Being Largely Among the Lost Boys Prompts Me to Pan 'Peter and the Starcatcher' -- Chicago Theater Review

Theater Review

Peter and the Starcatcher
a play by Rick Elice
directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers
Bank of America Theatre, Chicago
Thru April 13

Although I have never read the J.M. Barrie novel, can't much recall the animated Disney movie and have been repeatedly left cold by the musical starring Cathy Rigby, I appreciate Peter Pan as an ode to the power of imagination.

And it is clear that plenty of such imagination went into creating a prequel of a play, Peter and the Starcatcher.

As written by Rick Elice, based on a novel by famed humorist Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the prior-to-Neverland prologue has a clever premise.

It has plenty of clever lines, with many funny modern-day references at odds with the play's time period. And adding to its Monty Pythonesque sensibility, Peter and the Starcatcher is quite cleverly staged by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers.

With many fine notices, both from its current (but soon to end) Chicago run, and its time on Broadway, I will defer to the likelihood that it is a piece of theater of higher quality than my own particular enjoyment suggests.

For despite all the cleverness, I didn't much care for it.

Or about it.

And to be honest, for much of the show, I was thoroughly confused as to what was going on.

I knew going in that it was a Peter Pan prequel and detected the dichotomy being set up between Peter and the Lost Boys and their future nemesis, Captain Hook.

But between the British accents, hard-to-follow narrative and my general lack of interest in the whole Peter Pan mythology, boy was I lost.

Even after trying to decipher the plot summary via Wikipedia at intermission--it didn't help that it was the longest summary I've ever seen--and thinking I had the general idea going into Act II, I remained largely lost at sea.

There was nothing wrong with the performers, who all seemed quite good (including Joey deBettencourt as Peter, Megan Stern as Molly and John Sanders as the Black Stache; I won't bother explaining how they all fit in, nor should I for anyone who may see this tour or future stagings).

And if someone was to say they absolutely loved Peter and the Starcatcher, I wouldn't question or debate their opinion. As I've tried to intimate, the show is clearly well-done for what it is; but I just didn't get it.

For one reason or another, rightly or wrongly, some shows just don't catch me.

Even if they have a clever Hook. 

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