from the books by J.M. Barrie
At Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago
Dark and uneven retelling of Barrie’s classic tale
Let me state upfront that the Lookingglass Theatre production of Peter Pan is NOT the delightful, family friendly musical. It is a dark affair that contains too much adults playing children with characters that we never connect with so there no one for us to cheer for. Sure there are plenty of visual stunts and people flying about and loads of screaming in excitement and fear. This production is for 12 and up, so don’t bring young children.
Adapter and director Amanda Dehnert’s Peter Pan tries to do too much leaving the work devoid of heroes. When Peter Pan (Ryan Nunn) appears to take the children flying off to Neverland, he makes a tepid impression. Tinkerbell (Aislinn Mulligan) is also underdeveloped as we don’t fully understand her relationship to Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.
The relationship between Wendy (Kay Kron) and her brothers John (Jamie Abelson) and Michael (Alex Weisman) and their parents is strangely presented. It plays as if the children don’t miss nor care about their parents.
Thomas J. Cox plays Captain Hook as a manic lunatic and his crew of pirates look like escapees from a Tim Burton horror film. We never buy the reason why Hook hates Peter Pan.
While playfully dark and aptly using aerial arts with child-like humor, this adult Peter Pan is filled with action, simultaneous sensations of amazement, fear and nightmares. Peter Pan is a hollow fellow who doesn’t fully make the case for his credo: “I’ll never grow up.” There is sexual tension from Wendy that confuses Peter Pan that never gets resolved.
I don’t think this production has found what it is trying to do since it isn’t scary enough nor child-like enough not does it fully develop its child-centered premise. The flying, the exotic staging and the unpredictable action carries the show. I’m not sure who the audience is for this Peter Pan? Children – no; adults who have never been to a Lookingglass Theatre show – yes. There is enough creative staging and nice ensemble work to justify seeing this Peter Pan.
At Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL, call 312-337-0665, www.lookingglasstheatre.org, tickets $30 – $62, Wednesdays thry sundays at 7:30 pm, matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission.