If you don’t understand the story of Peter Pan, you definitely won’t understand Peter Panties, the avant-garde play put on by The Cultch.
On the surface, the 60-minute performance seems disjointed and nonsensical. The characters are static, the plot is meddled and the play randomly references CSI.
But the true story of Peter Pan is not about the fantastic adventures in Neverland, it’s about “the boy who would never grow up.”
The play has three fairly prominent male characters, one being Peter Pan, another being his father. All three men struggle with the realities of life, and cope through escapism.
Throughout the performance, each one comes to terms with their “Peter Pan syndrome” and essentially grow up: They grow up through having sex for the first time, getting married and having children respectively. They reach life milestones and in doing so, transition from acting childish to becoming adults.
Interjected between scenes was footage of two of the playwrights discussing the play’s scenes. One had Down syndrome, and was explaining to the other his ideas for the plot. The way in which he explained his ideas was not in a way the average adult would: He spoke both extremely logically and literally.
It was his debut as a writer, a personal milestone in his life. He also acted in the play, and his character gets married. In a sense, he was like Peter Pan: Because of his condition, he developed more slowly, and struggled with growing up.
It took me about 48 hours to begin to comprehend the depth of the production, and upon reflection I enjoy the essence of the play. It had meaning, but the message was buried under the overall weirdness of the performance.
Unless you are a Cultch regular, Peter Panties isn’t the type of play I would recommend if you’re looking for a fun night out.