Sunday, December 7, 2014

Peter and the Starcatcher: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

If you are familiar with Peter Pan, which probably includes the entire theater-going population of America, you can't help but love Rick Elice's "Peter and the Starcatcher." Based on the successful twenty-first century novels by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, we now have all the "how exactlys" that have concerned us since we were children, like how exactly did Captain Hook lose his hand, and how exactly did the Lost Boys get lost on that island, and how is it, exactly, that Peter managed to never grow up? 

The ensemble cast is all excellent. Patrick Kelly Jones plays Black Stache, the evil both-handed pirate (for awhile), who wants the lighting correct for all his scenes; Tim Homsley, in his first Theatreworks role, is the nameless orphan who becomes Peter; Adrienne Walters is Molly, without whom there could have been no Wendy; and Suzanne Grodner is the delightfully malaproping Smee, the captain's right-hand man, oh, oops.

We cannot forget to mention Michael Gene Sullivan in a quartet of roles, especially Captain Fighting Prawn, as well as Ron Campbell's alliteration-enhanced Betty Bumbrake.

The puns, double entendres and belly laughs fly fast and furious. And we promise one of the funniest scenes of the year when you discover exactly what DID happen to Black Stache's right hand.

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Peter and the Starcatcher" Four Stars with a BANGLE of PRAISE.  The thing we love best about this show is it doesn't take itself all that seriously, but reaches full-out for each joke without shame. The dialogue might refer to pirate ships or cell phone ads, and who knew about Norse Code? But it all works, and Robert Kelley keeps both feet on the throttle at all times.

The BANGLE of PRAISE is for the death scene of that right hand. Since we already know Black Stache is destined to become Captain Hook, Patrick Kelly Jones's agonizing trip around the treasure chest, never showing us his hand, is absolutely priceless. Take your kids; take your grandparents.

"Peter and the Starcatcher"
Lucie Stern Theatre
1350 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Through January 3, 2015