The Suffolk Journal

“Peter and the Starcatcher” tells another side to the classic story of “Peter Pan”

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“Peter and the Starcatcher” tells another side to the classic story of “Peter Pan”

Courtesy of Lauren Elias

Courtesy of Lauren Elias

Courtesy of Lauren Elias

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The Hub Theatre finished their 2018 season with an explosive, comical and visually impressive performance of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” originally a popular young adult novel that later did a run on Broadway. The company’s rendition has an organic and intimate quality that someone sitting in the back of a Broadway theater could never experience.

The cast, composed of local actors portraying more than two characters each, sometimes switching back and forth between roles, and even playing props such as doors and waves. It’s more than just an adaptation; it’s a charming play that all parts of a family can appreciate.

The play takes place several years before the plot of “Peter Pan,” and thus relies on references to the original work to set up plot points and engage its audience. In the show, pixie dust is more than just something to make children fly. Captain Hook, played by Joey Pelletier, is a corsair who still possesses both of his hands. There is no Wendy, but rather introduces Molly, played by Lauren Elias. She is an intelligent and headstrong girl crossing the ocean with her father to deliver a priceless treasure. Peter, played by Claire Koenig, is a nameless orphan stowed away on her ship.

Director Sarah Gazdowicz crafts a fast-paced and rapidly progressing play. A cast member begins with a warning to the audience that the show “contains orphans, salty sailors, shipwrecks, clams, prawns and pirates,” and the absurdity only begins from there. One moment a lead actor is monologuing at the center of the stage and the next they are one piece of a moving ship composed of the entire cast.

Rather than sitting in front of the stage, the audience was seated around an inner “pit” and an upper “stage” where most of the background props were located. Characters ran around the back of the chairs where the swashbuckling sword fights often took place. Included in its unconventionality, the show turns the problematic Neverland “Indians” into a crew of Italian chefs who shout different Italian dishes and act as the island’s savage locals.

Koenig’s performance as Peter was innocent and emotional. Peter grows from an unfeeling and abused orphan to the mischievous and innocent boy audiences remember from the original. Koenig’s expressions and emotions were compelling and believable, which grow with the development of Peter as the character learns what family and home are.

The true joy of the show falls to the comical relief in the form of the iconic Captain Hook, known as Captain Stache and his flamboyant underling Smee, played by Michael Ciszewski. Their performances were outstandingly animated and vibrant, true to their foppish origins, and consistently stole the show with subtle adult jokes and boisterous monologues that left the audience in both a state of shock and laughter.

The show may thrive in its silliness rather than its captivating storyline, but its overall pursuit is to provide theatre for the community in a “pay what you can” model, relying entirely on donations for those that may not be able to afford expensive tickets to the Boston Opera House, but who still want to enjoy a carefully crafted and delightful production. The show will run until Nov. 18 at First Church Boston.

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“Peter and the Starcatcher” tells another side to the classic story of “Peter Pan”