Like a local Soundcloud rapper, No Refund Theatre’s Spring season performance of Peter and the Starcatcher had a pleasantly lo-fi aesthetic: the DIY props, costumes, and a playful cast suited the Peter Pan prequel’s not-so-serious tone.
Directed by Sarah Chairnoff and Abbie Jensen, with assistant direction from Meg Reed and Chaz Pod, No Refund Theatre kicked off February’s theater spell with a suitably magical opening performance of Rick Elice’s Peter and the Starcatcher (February 2-4 @ 9pm). The play, based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, serves as an origin story for Peter Pan, prior to his adventures with Wendy in Neverland.
Peter, here referred to simply as Boy, is an unnamed orphan, shipped into slavery and death by grown-ups far crueler than he. Joined by his friends, soon to be known as the lost boys, Peter meets Molly, his first ‘Mother.’ Together, they save an invaluable treasure from the hands of dastardly pirates, led by the merciless Black Stache. Along the way, Peter and Molly meet Mermaids, flying cats, and even a group of savage Italians. It’s a richly ridiculous story – and one that suits an audience with a wild imagination.
Like children using whatever tools available to create fantasy worlds, so too did the cast limit their use of props. Matching the script’s childish tone, the cast expected the audience to imagine the extra-performative elements. Considering the most complicated costume change involved a hilarious cross-dressing intro to the second act (each male cast member simply switching a shirt for a bra), the playtime-like performance certainly suited Peter Pan‘s larger themes of youth, while providing some necessary comic relief.
Though the cast struggled to handle the verbose, fast-paced script, some constituents grappled to sing in tune, and a few members took a rather painful-looking tumble, the small hiccups rarely distracted from the performance’s fun. Complete with timely jokes about immigrants, plenty of both insults and compliments to the British, and a decent helping of sexual innuendo, the audience was positively responsive all night.
Max Levine and Sebastian Pellegrini were both notable highlights, each giving equally hilarious performances of Mrs Bumbrake and Black Stache, respectively. Ending with the creation of Neverland, Peter and the Starcatcher is likely to warm any Peter Pan fan’s heart, expanding J.M. Barrie’s wonderfully innocent universe, while remaining true to its childish roots.
Looking to the future, No Refund Theatre has a busy February, with another two plays lined up for the remainder of December. February 9-11 features You’s a Good Man Charlie Brown, while February 23-25 will see what is likely to be another pleasantly ridiculous performance, this time of the Penis Monologues.