When given the opportunity recently to see the pirate who started the obsession - Capt. Hook - as part of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, I jumped at it, but then I quickly paused because Rocket is only four, younger than their suggested minimum age of five. We went ahead with it anyway, with Kevin joining along in case Rocket needed to be taken out during the performance. Instead of fidgeting or talking, Rocket was mesmerized. The theater is in the round and all of the seats are quite close, which helped pull Rocket into the action. (Also, a container of candy kept him seated, but that's a post for tomorrow.) Other than a few loud booms and a provocative dance by Tiger Lily, the show was appropriate for a four year old.
Clover and Rocket loved the production. They thought Tinker Bell was funny, they enjoyed the puppetry, were impressed by the crocodile, and they loved Peter Pan. Clover especially loved Tinker Bell because she was authentic to the story, not the glammed up version frequently passed off today. Jonathan Hyde was absolutely amazing. It wasn't until final curtain that I realized he played both Mr. Darling and Captain Hook.
I hadn't seen or read Peter Pan since I was young. I remember it being dark and stressful (no parents around can be fun, but who is going to make dinner?), and as an adult, it's even more so. I wasn't stressed, but it was more depressing than I remembered. They are truly lost boys. And what about Wendy, with her willingness to take on a mommy role? Is it playing on the stereotypical role of girls to want to play mommy or did she (or the author) have larger issues? At the very end, (SPOILER ALERT, maybe? But really, it's an old story) Wendy walks out of another room, leaving Peter Pan and her daughter alone. I thought, "Are you crazy, lady?"
Later that evening, Clover said she liked how the story started over. She explained that Peter Pan was still essentially a child and he found another child to play with, keeping the story moving on. I loved that she grasped how things circled around again. Her discussion of the characters was richer than I'd ever heard from her before. Last year, she walked out of Wicked, somewhat naive to the greater message, but at age seven and a half, now she's better able to understand plots and characters. It was a fun revelation.
After the show, we got a change to meet some of the characters and while both of my kids were excited to meet Nate Fallows (Peter Pan), they were too shy to converse with anyone else, even when the sweet Abby Ford (Wendy) came over to talk to them. Actually, my kids had to be convinced the actors really were the characters they just saw on stage. I don't know if they completely believed me. "That guy with the Coke in his back pocket was Peter Pan? Really? That guy? With the hat?" Clover asked me in disbelief. (For the record, it was a can of Coke and somehow he did fit it in the back pocket of his jeans.)
This was the most professional play Rocket has seen and he aced it. It was a great introduction to theater for him and I was relieved with how well he handled it because next month both kids will see their first Broadway show. I have to remember to pack some candy, just in case.Peter Pan is playing through Sept. 5 at Ferry Park on the Embarcadero, across from the Ferry Building.
Disclosure: I was given four free tickets to the show from Three Sixty Entertainment.