Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock!
Here comes the Crocodile!
In my role as drama critic for the Weekly Villager (No rest for the wicked, as my father used to say), I recently took in the Baldwin Wallace University Department of Theatre and Dance’s production of J. M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan”. Quite an evening!
One of the motivating factors for this drama excursion was, of course, the appearance onstage of a “local boy made good”, the inimitable Luke Brett, as Captain Hook.
It was a five-star performance from open to close (Hook closed a tad early, being dragged off by the crocodile…who had bitten off his hand…and was so taken by the taste that he wanted to eat the rest) and all of the histrionics in between. The tech work was terrific, with fog rolling in and out, a myriad of little LED lights standing in for stars and conveying the idea that the Darling children were flying off to NeverLand and a single green laser representing TinkerBelle flitting about the set and between two worlds. The set was a marvel of levels, stairs and platforms, allowing scenes to become focused by changes in lighting rather than movement.
Movement, there was plenty of movement, mostly frenetic, as the Lost Boys shot about, jumping up-and-down, shouting at Peter, shouting at each other, shouting when the pirates came, shouting just because they were wild, uncivilized children without a mother. There was movement, too, when the pirates arrived, swords in hand, scaring off the Boys and the Indians–and some of the younger members of the audience–all under the command of the villainous Captain Hook.
Captain Hook…what a blackguard!…what a scoundrel!…what a hoot!
So, here he comes on stage, his tricorn hat afloat with such a pouf of ostrich feathers, his brocade coat with such cuffs and buttons, his mustache with such a vicious curl, his hook with such a wicked glint–right out there on the pointed tip of it–that there were shrieks of delight throughout the audience. He was such a delicious villain, tiptoeing on the edge of farcical but never walking off the plank. He sought revenge against Peter Pan, who had been the reason, or so Hook thought, for the loss of his hand and subsequent pursuit by the crocodile. He fumed. He plotted. He snarled. He engaged in swordplay. He CAPTURED Wendy and the Boys. Zounds!
…and all of this while the mermaids sang (quite lovely four-part harmony), Cinderella scrubbed, the Indians brandished their weapons, Mr.& Mrs. Darling behaved in a perfectly Victorian fashion and Nana, the dog/nursemaid (who frequently acted more self-absorbed than a cat and had a dog fan-base, a scene-stealer) reluctantly obeyed the master of the house. The children in attendance seemed absolutely enthralled with nearly every aspect of the production. They laughed, they giggled, they gasped–and so did their parents and nearly everyone else in the black-box theatre. One little boy appeared to be on the verge of following one group of performers out of the performance space as they made a noisy–and rapid–exit.
Not a weak performance among ‘em. It was THEATRE for the fun of it. And the audience ( Luke had his own claque of appreciative Bretts in the front rows. Don King, long-time director and playwright came in support too.) was drawn into it, totally. Anyone who saw Luke in any of the many productions that he appeared in on the Garfield stage–musical or non-musical–can congratulate themselves on being present at the beginning of what may well be a meteoric career on the stage. Save any autographs that you have.
Great production. Great evening. Great future on display.
Bravo! Bravo! Bravissimo!