Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Peter Pan at OCPAC

You've seen the cartoon movie, probably even a live action version; You've likely seen a theatrical production, maybe put on by a high school drama team; but you've never seen Peter Pan like this. In threesixty°'s production of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan at OCPAC, you'll feel as if you're truly part of the adventure. The action of the play takes place on a round stage in the center of the audience, in a large cricus-like tent, hearkening back to Shakespearean-Globe Theatre days. As it hearkens back, it simultaneously hearkens forward to a virtual reality of sorts, as the top half of the tent is used to project a vivid moving picture and changing backdrop for the action of the play.

[Peter Pan In The Round (c) Kevin Berne]

This photo might look like a psychedelic blur - or the all-seeing eye of Sauron - at first glance, but look closer and you'll discover that this scene from threesixty°'s Peter Pan takes place in the woods, at the headquarters/hide out of "the lost boys." The projections provide a truly 360° experience that moves and changes as the characters continue their adventure. The most breathtaking moment of this experience comes whenever the characters fly; you'll feel like you're flying alongside them as you soar above London, dodging buildings and navigating through archways on the way to Neverland (Sidenote: applause and audible "oohs" and "ahhs" from the audience are to be expected, and even partaken in). 

[Flight to Neverland (c) Kevin Berne]

"To live would be a very big adventure," Peter Pan (Nate Fallows) says before beginning to cry.  This was perhaps my most favorite moment of the play - though the flight to Neverland was a very, very close second. The emotional weight of this line still hits me. For all his fun, adventuring, and refusal to grow up, young Peter - even if only for an instant - realizes his loneliness, and longs for the one thing he is most afraid of: growing up. Barrie perhaps intended for readers/viewers/listeners of the tale to then understand that there is beauty in maturity, and even beauty in that which we fear. For this reason and much more, the line which was delivered so flawlessly by Fallows hit me deeply.

After the show ended, I felt a bit of a loss for words (something that doesn't happen often for this writer). Not only that, but I felt a bit daunted by the task I knew that laid ahead of me: writing this review.  I asked myself, "Are there words to describe this production?" The resulting answer from myself to myself resembled something like a hen plucking at a surplus of corn scattered before her, or a miner picking away at a ginormous gem in a stubborn rocky cavern; single words came to mind, one at a time: awe-inspiring. Breathtaking. Captivating. Beyond our time (ok, that's more than a single word at a time, but it did come to mind). This presentation tells a classic story in a way that is new, beautiful, and wildly vivid. I hope you make it a priority to see threesixty°'s Peter Pan at OCPAC while you can - just expect to be swept away and carried off to a familiar and magical place. 

[Peter Pan Illustration by Steve Rawlings, Design by Feast Creative]

Peter Pan is running now through November 21st at OCPAC.  For tickets and show times, click here.



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