Friday, June 6, 2008

Play of the Week: Peter Pan

Many of us know the story of Peter Pan. Mostly through the beautiful Disney film but also through the musical and Mary Martin, Hook, or Finding Neverland. Few of us, however, will ever read the script of the original production: Peter Pan - Anon a Play. Even J.M. Barrie wasn't fully satisfied with the original script and it underwent many changes before it reached the form we are familiar with today.

Some of the changes are glaringly obvious. At this time Tinkerbell is still named "Tippy-toe" The children Wendy, Michael, and John are actually named Wendy, Alexander, and John.

The plot follows the basic outline that we are all familiar with. Peter Pan looses his Shadow in the Darling's nursery and when he comes to recover it wakes Wendy. He decides that she will be his mother and takes her and her brothers back to Neverland. Here they meet the Lost Boys and have adventures with the local tribe of Indians. After a stay, the John and Alexander begin to miss their real mother and Wendy decides to take her brother and all the lost boys back to London to find them mothers. As they are leaving, they are kidnapped by Captain Hook and his band of pirates who leave poison for the unsuspecting Peter. Tippy-toe drinks the poison and Peter saves her by getting the audience to believe in fairies. The two friends set off to save Wendy and the boys from the Pirates defeating Captain Hook.

Anyone who has seen the Mary Martin musical will be very familiar with the plot and much of the dialogue is the same. It is, however, in the next two scenes that things begin to differ.

In this version, all of the Lost Boys and Peter return to London where they interview women to be mothers for all of the boys. Finding the perfect mother will result in some of the young women taking punches from the boys and not getting angry. Many of the test are harmless (like kissing a sleeping so as not to wake him up), but the violence of a select few would leave a modern audience stunned. It is the culmination of a long line of violent acts through out the play - most that the audience may be willing to go along with, but this one is so glaring that you begin to question the play itself. Peter, believing that no one but Wendy is fit to be his mother, constructs a house in the park where he will live the rest of his days, dodging the schoolmaster who believes all boys should be in school.

It's a fascinating read and a must for anyone who has ever been a fan of Peter Pan. It will completely change your perception of the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment