Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn't grow up, is an indelible part of our culture.  But I confess, my only two Peter Pan touchstones are the 1991 film Hook and the time the Baby-sitters Club was involved in an epic production of the musical (put on by Stoneybrook's high school, middle school, AND elementary school!).*  So I think I came to the play as clean a slate as a media consumer my age can get.

One thing that pleased me, the techie: there are plausible opportunities within the text for the children to be wired for flight unseen (as when they are hiding while Nana and the maid look in on the nursery).

One thing that totally caught me off guard: a despondent Captain Hook commits suicide.

Where is Peter?  The incredible boy has apparently forgotten the recent doings, and is sitting on a barrel playing upon his pipes.  This may surprise others but does not surprise Hook.  Lifting a blunderbuss he strikes forlornly not at the boy but at the barrel, which is hurled across the deck.  Peter remains sitting in the air still playing upon his pipes.  At this sight the great heart of Hook breaks.  That not wholly unheroic figure climbs the bulwarks murmuring 'Floreat Etona,' and prostrates himself into the water, where the crocodile is waiting for him open-mouthed.  Hook knows the purpose of this yawning cavity, but after what he has gone through he enters it like one greeting a friend.

I had always imagined that Peter had defeated Hook by forcing him (perhaps accidentally) into the maw of the crocodile.  This is so much more melodramatic.

Something to remember: I read the 1928 published version.  The play was mounted annually, and Barrie continuously revised it, so this is a most unstable text.


My favorite fact about this play (learned a long while ago) is that playwright Dion Boucicault's daughter Nina originated the role of Peter Pan.

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*As for Jonathon, he made his professional debut as lost boy Curly in a regional theatre production of the musical.  Typecasting!