BWW Review: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at Playhouse Merced

BWW Review: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at Playhouse MercedBased on a children's book and built with a mostly adult audience in mind, Peter and the Starcatcher isn't the sort of show you can put in a defined box. The J.M. Barrie-inspired play utilizes an unusual narrative style dependent on a versatile cast and imaginative staging. And of course, familiarity with the boy who never grew up adds to the enjoyment of a clever script.

Boy has not yet become Peter Pan. He hasn't met Tinker Bell, and he has yet to fly. He boards a ship as an orphan boy without a name, but his life soon turns (literally) upside down. Also on board is the young Molly Aster, a Starcatcher in training whose father is on a mission for the queen (God save her). When the magical Starstuff turns up and a "bloodthirsty" pirate (you know the one) attacks, Molly and the Boy work together to keep the Starstuff out of the wrong hands ... or hand.

A small ensemble plays multiple characters that use random props (and sometimes their own bodies) to set the scene. But in addition to the creativity and wit on display, author Rick Elice included simple existential questions. Boy struggles just to survive, while Molly challenges him to care about something beyond his own life. Despite his determination to remain a boy forever, Peter takes a striking journey in his growth as a character.

A hearty cast lifts these characters to high heights at Playhouse Merced through April 2. Despite a small and less responsive audience Saturday evening, James McIntyre (Peter) and Abigail Roe (Molly) led a group that clearly puts its heart and soul into every performance. One or two actors had trouble with pronunciation, and there were not quite as many of the requisite eclectic props seen in other productions. However, as director Jim Kocher wrote in his program notes, this is a play that relies on suggestion and storytelling. And Merced has a wonderful cast of storytellers. Next to McIntyre and Roe's dynamic duo, Bryan Hurd's animated Black Stache, Paul Wegner's naïve Smee and Carlos Nunez's smarmy Slank use their pirate skills to steal the spotlight in this delightful show for all ages.

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PETER AND THE STARCATCHER
Playhouse Merced
http://www.playhousemerced.com/

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