Monday, May 13, 2019

Peter/Wendy—Bag & Baggage Productions—Hillsboro, OR



         An Awfully Big Adventure

    This classic tale by J. M. Barrie is adapted for the stage by Jeremy Bloom and directed by Cassie Greer (new Artistic Director for B&B).  It is playing at their space, The Vault Theatre, 350 E. Main St. in downtown Hillsboro, through May 19th.  For more information, go to their site at www.bagnbaggage.org or call 503-345-9590.

    This is a re-imagining of Peter Pan with most of the story intact.  There have been many stage and screen version of his masterpiece since the early 1900’s. Much of the time, Peter has been played by a woman, including Maude Adams, Sandy Duncan, Bonnie Franklin, Mia Farrow, Mary Martin, et. al.  And the adaptations range from the 5-act version by the Royal Shakespeare Company to Disney’s animated version.  My personal favorite is an Australian, non-musical film, with no big stars, made some years ago.

     Now we have the B&B story-telling version, via Bloom, with only seven actors playing the essential roles, as well as narrating the story.  And, as mentioned, most of the story is still evident:  The Darlings (Kymberli Colbourne & Justin Charles) whisk off to a party, leaving their daughter, Wendy (Kayla Kelly), unattended at home (gone are John, Michael and Nana, the dog).  Then appears an intruder, who flies through her window, Peter Pan (Phillip J. Berns) and his trusty companion, the fairy, Tinker Bell (Jeremy Sloan).

    As everyone must know, they fly off to Neverland and encounter the Lost Boy (Jacquelle Davis)--gone are the rest of the fellows.  They also meet up with the Tiger Lily (Cambria Herrra), a forest friend, and, of course, the notorious Captain Hook (Colbourne, again) and his trusty mate, Smee (Charles, again)--gone are the rest of the crew.  As you probably well know, there is a kidnapping of Wendy, an attempted poisoning of Peter and the famous battle between the good guys and bad.  But, as the Bard said, “all’s well that ends well.”  But, a bit of a tear, too, as an innocence is lost and an innocence is maintained.

    The exciting aspect of this production by Greer, is the free-flowing style.  Only a bed on wheels and some wooden blocks are used for any kind of setting and props.  The rest is a magical ballet of movement to carry us from one world to the next.  And, probably, most important of all, it allows us to free ourselves from the caged, cyber-world we are currently enslaved to for our view of the world and frees our imaginations to soar to height of fantasy, a recess from the mundane and predictable.  Thank you, Cassie and cast!

    Kelly is a lovey Wendy and Colbourne and Charles are a great team.  Sloane, Herrera and Davis fill out splendidly the rest of the ensemble.  And Berns, as Pan, is perfect!  I’ve seen him many times in the past, always giving a noteworthy performance (as he does here) and hope to see his one-man, A Christmas Carol again someday, as it’s super.

    And a special welcome to Cassie Greer, as she was always my pick for the next A/D for the company.  I just hope she doesn’t give up acting, as she is equally as good at that, too.  Kudos to you, young lady!

    I recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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