REVIEW OF PETER AND THE STARCATCHER
By Rick Elice
Based on the novel by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Music by Wayne Barker
Directed by Patrick Nims
For tickets / schedule :
Belrose Theatre, San Rafael
RUN: October 21 – November 12, 2016
RATING: 3 of 5 stars
(November 4, 2016)
Peter Pan’s world is a genre that is difficult to define; while wrapped in the outer appearance of a bedtime story, its darker elements are crafted for adults. In earlier stories, he is a sinister figure, which recently resurfaced in the Once Upon a Time adaptation where parents fight to protect their children from the immortal kidnapper of Neverland. Touches of cruelty and bitterness surround the boy in Peter and the Starcatcher. As an orphan, he has endured suffering and rejection; adults betray Peter, leading to repeated outcries of anger against them. Nick Gallagher captures the character’s brooding nature that secretly yearns for companionship. Through decisions made by adults within the play, we are forced to examine how they affect children who do not understand the nuances behind those choices. Peter struggles with why he has been treated unfairly, internalizing the abuse until it isolates him. These compelling themes run underneath a play filled with melodramatic antics.
From flashing red lights and awed shouts of “Black Stache!” to toothbrush toting mermaids mincing across the stage, this production is a masterpiece of primitive theater, drawing on the competence of the actors over elaborate sets and props. When Molly creeps through the ship, peering into cabins, the cast becomes doors and bulkheads. The backdrop by Gary Gonser is a simple and effective wall of stacked crates as if inside the cargo deck of a clipper ship; remaining sets are created by ropes, a ladder, and the occasional sea chest. Leffie Martin’s imaginative fight choreography includes toilet plunger and brush wielding combatants facing off on a storm tossed ship amid Harrison Moye’s inspired lighting design. Unfortunately, despite an ensemble that gives it their all, the production suffers under a poorly constructed plot, staid dialog, and narration that attempts to be clever. There are flashes of dry humor in the style of Douglas Adams, but not enough to hold up the play.
Hannah Bloom’s Molly Aster shines like the stardust pendant around her neck—she manages a consistent accent, coquettish energy, and grows from a petulant young girl in the first scene to a maturing woman who bids Peter farewell with wistful acceptance. Mark Clark as Mrs. Bumbrake lightens the mood with his touches of eyelash fluttering comedy, and the entire cast hams it up with enthusiasm, dashing about, tumbling, and running, rather like a group of friends playing dress up in the attic and having a grand old time.
Enjoy a boisterous evening of inside jokes and clownish antics with thoughtful musings on being an adult. Unwind after a stressful day with Peter and the Starcatcher in the cozy cabaret seating of San Rafael’s Belrose Theatre.