BWW Review: LOST GIRL Shines at UT Theatre And Dance
"Neverland was an awfully long time ago..."
In Kimberly Belflower's LOST GIRL, Wendy Darling takes center stage to give us her story of growing up and living in the shadow of the eternally youthful Peter Pan. The magic of Peter Pan is a far cry from the reality of this world, much less the world of an adult. This thoughtful version is an exploration of love, identity and loss, as Wendy faces the cold stark fact that she must grow up, let go, and move on from Peter and her adventures in NeverLand.
LOST GIRL opens in the nursery, Wendy now grown. This is a long time after Peter has flown through her window, the window she keeps open, just in case. Wendy's at the window in a reverie played out for us in silhouette of a young Wendy and Peter on either side of the stage, just as she's giving him her hidden kiss. It's the thing she'll look for over and over throughout LOST GIRL, in a quest to feel whole again. She's convinced Peter will return for her and it's rendered her neurotic and isolated. Playwright Belflower uses this premise to mirror her own journey as a young woman, and no doubt, the journey of many young women whose own narrative is oppressed by the invalidation of those around her. LOST GIRL is a play that speaks to the Technicolor experience that most girls have of their first love. The experience of being magically enamored by boys who they eventually must leave behind if they're ever to grow themselves. And it's not just girls. In many cases, it's all of us - every woman who has ever called love an excuse to leave herself and her own life behind. While LOST GIRL sounds like a tragedy, even down to a Chorus that tells us the story of Wendy and Peter, it's also one of completion and validation.
What's it like to return from Neverland, scarred by a narcissistic boy who never grows up? In Belflower's story, it's speaking with doctors and psychiatrists who offer anything from indifference to pedantic compassion about your "kidnapping" and current situation. It's a mother who strives to provide support, but only succeeds in doing so by reaching out and sharing her own LOST GIRL story with her daughter. It's a few Lost Boys who, having had to grow up themselves, give comfort and familiarity. In the end though, it's taking your own archetypal hero's journey and finding your own way to your own release.
LOST GIRL is a beautiful production, clearly being afforded the budget deserving of the University of Texas. The set, lighting, projection and scenic design is minimal, but in no way scrappy. There is a pleasure in being part of an experiment of new theatrical work without being subject to a playwright or producer's obscure vision. Sometimes it's a vision that is so obscure it isolates its audience to a point of exclusivity. Luckily, LOST GIRL stays in the realm of our understanding while toying with narratives. Each character Wendy interacts with also plays a role as a Greek Chorus; Wendy tells us her story in first person narrative, while the Chorus gives us a strict third person observation. This Chorus under Cara Phipp's direction and Casey Oliver's movement is sharp and detached, just as a Chorus should be. This is a young and pretty cast, all of whom are simultaneously slick and charming. They rub up against Adriana Scarmadi's vulnerable and crumpled Wendy in nice contrast. There's not a fault among any of the fine young actors in this show, and Jordan Maranto and Josh Cole capture the imagination quite compellingly. If there is a fault in LOST GIRL, it may be that Belflower indulges Wendy in her narrative for too long. My patience wore thin with her just before the Lost Boys had lost their patience with her, too.
Catch LOST GIRL while you can. Support the up and coming excellent talent in the world of theatre at the University of Texas.
by Kimberly Belflower
University of Texas Theatre and Dance Dept.
Oscar G. Brockett Theatre
300 E. 23rd
Austin TX 78712
Through November 20
90 minutes with no intermission