Sunday night we went to a play. Peter Pan. But not just any Peter Pan. We went to J.M. Barre's Peter Pan by 360 productions. Clever stage craft, deft and loyal-to-the-original-story-telling, and crazy CGI animation sets. This show . . .
First off, the kids actually sat and watched the whole thing. That's how fantastic it was. Sure, the Pman tried several times to talk to anyone around him at a level that while for him might be conversational, for everyone else was probably "a little to fucking loud."
When the stage cleared: "WHERE'D THEY ALL GO?"
When there was ever any slight lull in the action (of which there were few): "WHERE'S THE CROCODILE? I WANT TO SEE THE CROCODILE!"
And my favorite one during a scene when the pirates were capturing the Lost Boys: "ARE THE PIRATES GONNA EAT THOSE PEOPLE?"
He's got a dark vision, the Pumpkin Man.
In the interest of integrity and whatnot, you should know that 360 productions comped us the tickets as part of a contingent of mommy bloggers. I hope you folks know me well enough by now to know that if I didn't like the show, you'd know it.
The think was held in a huge tent like structure that had been set up in the middle of Boston's City Hall Plaza. Looked like a huge soft serve vanilla icecream or a turret on the Kremlin or as the Peanut put it, "A giant sand castle."
The production was an amazing combination of minimalist setting, clever stagecraft--mad trap doors and hidey holes, y'all--and crazy cgi animation projected onto a 360 degree screen that was about 25 feet above the stage. So that when the characters flew, it seemed as if they were flying over 19th century London. They fought on Hook's ship. There were mermaids performing aerial ballet high over the stage while simultaneously being deep under the computer generated sea.
Both kids loved the show. They sat rapt. When the stars shone overhead and Peter beseeched us to tell TinkerBell we believed, you could see the starlight in the Peanut's eyes. She believed.
The actress who played TinkerBell was terrific. A growling, angry, feisty steam punk TinkerBell with lights in her hair and menace in her heart. A fierce, jealous. loving, chaotic, magical id in a puffy pink skirt and little brown boots.
We also got a special treat. At the end we got to go back stage and meet the puppeteer who controlled Nana the dog and who was part of controlling the great Crocodile puppet. The Crocodile was ten feet long, took two people to drive it, and was made mostly of materials one might find in a closet. Wooden hangar ribs and spine, clothespin teeth etc. Just great. Felt really lucky to be able to go. I did share a magnanimous wink with my wife when our guide, the puppeteer, thanked all of "you mommy bloggers for coming to the show and blogging about it."
Great show. I'l put all the info down at the bottom.
The story of Peter Pan itself, that was a little surprising if by surprising you mean chocker block full of oedipal issues and not so latent sexuality. Basically, every girl in the play was looking to get a serving from Peter's Pan, if you get my drift.
Right away, Wendy wants to kiss him. She asks him if he knows what a kiss is and he replies, "I'll know what a kiss is if you give me one." Pretty fucking slick, right there.
The whole thing pivots on the fact that Wendy wants to "be with him" and Peter sees her more as a mother type. The Indian character Tiger Lilly rewards him for saving her life with a dance so sensual I thought about covering the kids' eyes, and TinkerBell is practically a clitoris. I mean, the whole thing is basically saying "pubery will ruin you." Which, you know, I can't argue with that.
I can sum it up like this: In the final scene--which was the only downer for the Peanut, because Peter cried--Peter comes to Wendy again, but she's grown. She can't go with him anymore. She leaves him in her sleeping daughter's room, and Peter slumps to the floor sobbing. That's when her daughter wakes up and echoes the words her mother had uttered so many years ago. "Boy, why are you crying?" And Peter rises, does the same little dance he did for Wendy, and offers her daughter his hand. That's when my wife leaned over to me and whispered, "I'll tell you, if I were Wendy, I sure as hell wouldn't be leaving him alone with my daughter."
Great show. Whole-heartedly recommend it. There is some light violence and talk of death, but nothing graphic. You really should go and take your little ones, if you have the chance.
The website for the show is here. You can follow them on twitter @PeterPanTheShow.
Truly a terrific experience for the whole family. Thanks again to 360 Productions for sending us.
Also, I've got a new post up over at DadCentric. wherein I beat my breast and rend my flesh over the conundrum of my kids' education. It's light-hearted, like.