Lower Ossington Theatre’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher, the Tony award winning prequel to Peter Pan, is a raucous, wild ride that is, if nothing else, incredibly entertaining.
Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, it follows the story of Peter (Nathaniel Kinghan) before he becomes Peter Pan. A young orphan set to be cast into slavery (or worse), he meets Molly (Eliza Martin), the daughter of a British lord and a “starcatcher” in training. Along with two other orphan boys, Peter and Molly embark on an adventure to save a treasure chest full of “star stuff” from a band of ruthless pirates while escaping peril at the hands of a sinking ship, a terrible storm, a crocodile, and a band of food-obsessed jungle cannibals.
If the plot sounds chaotic, it matches the performance perfectly, but that’s not a bad thing. There is a bit of magic in the chaos, and you can’t help but smile and laugh at the events that unfold on stage. At times, there are as many as eight or more characters all yelling and jumping about or swinging from ropes while lights flash and illuminate the set in dazzling arrays.
There are softer, simpler moments as well, a nice contrast to the eclectic and boisterous parts of the story that dominate most of the play. Overall, it can be a tad confusing and overwhelming, but through it all you’ll be entertained, which is what seems to be of utmost importance in this production. The script is also filled to the brim with jokes and comedic moments. An onslaught of puns, modern references, and clever quips fly through the air, and they are handled well by the cast.
Stealing the show in every scene he plunders through is Jason Gray as Black Stache, a terrible, villainous pirate (if you ask his crew, at least) sporting a fine moustache and an unfortunate case of dyslexia. Along with his nimble, easily frightened first mate, Smee (Bryden Rutherford), Black Stache is certainly an unforgettable character that leads a young, energetic cast.
A marvellous set (set design by Michael Galloro and Mikael Kangas) authentically replicates the creaky, dungy underbelly of an old, wooden ship at sea. There are a myriad of clever entrances hidden across the stage, and they are used effectively to seamlessly transition from one scene to the next, or even to illustrate two different ships and crews at once.
Rather underwhelming, by contrast, is the costume design (by Erin Gerofsky). A mixture of modern clothes and authentic-looking pieces creates a confusing look, and when placed in front of such a beautifully thought out set, feels out of place. The play’s first scene draws the audience into the 18th century and into the British Empire at the height of its power, and while the stage looks the part, the costumes seem like a patchwork of right and wrong outfits, robbing the play of a bit of its realism.
Overall, Peter and the Starcatcher is a rollicking, swashbuckling adventure. It’s filled with songs and dancing, swordfights and coming-of-age, and while there might be some parts that overwhelm your senses just a degree, by the end, you’ll leave completely entertained.
Peter and the Starcatcher runs at the Lower Ossington Theatre until Aug. 28. Visit www.lowerossingtontheatre.com for more details.