Every Arts Fest has a play, presented by the Boston College theatre department, that runs each night. This year, that was was Peter and the Starcatcher, directed by Luke Jorgensen, the assistant department chair in the theatre department. The play tells the heartfelt tale of Peter Pan’s quest to find himself and a place where he belongs, and conjures up awareness in the audience of many goods in our own lives that are taken for granted. Featuring phenomenal performances and inhabiting a stage full of ships and magical mermaids, the play served as a lovable narrative of the joys of childhood dreaming, and the melancholy of all good things eventually coming to an end.
The play is a prequel to the well-known story of Peter Pan, where the audience meets the protagonist as a nameless, rag-clad orphan who just wants a home to call his own. Set in the Victorian era, there are two ships headed for a distant kingdom, the Neverland and the Wasp. While the queen’s storage trunk has “star stuff,” the powerful substance that can make you whoever you want to be, the other trunk holds a far less valuable trove of sand. The queen’s trunk ends up aboard the Neverland instead of the Wasp, unknown to the pirates who board the royal ship. When Molly, a mythical Starcatcher apprentice, boards the Neverland and tries to protect the chest of star stuff, she and Peter navigate the choppy waters of friendship and obligation. Led by Black Stache, the pirates imprison Lord Aster, Molly’s father, and after Stache finds the worthless treasure trunk, Molly and the orphans work to ensure the star stuff is destroyed in a really hot volcano, like “Mount Jalapeño.” Nobody would want the star stuff to fall into the wrong hands for evil purposes, such as those of “Mark Zuckerberg.”
The entire cast played a vital role in embodying the spirit of the play. Gabrielle Esposito, MCAS ʼ18, brought constant exuberance and enthusiasm to Molly, which conveyed her fierce independence and bubbly disposition extremely well. Dan Quinones, MCAS ʼ19, played the devilish pirate Black Stache with a devious comedic energy. The character has a poetic streak, a self-proclaimed “bloodthirsty outlaw” enamored with his own “facial foliage,” and Quinones served as a sympathetic villain for whom the audience cheers. And Dustin Uher, LSOE ʼ19, showed the growth of Peter Pan by conveying him initially as a moody loner, before bringing more wonder and joy to the character as the show progressed.
On a play where so much of the story relies on elements of magic, the production was integral to the story’s successful execution. Everything from the set design to the costumes was extremely detailed, which created an elaborate atmosphere that enhanced the audience experience. The costumes reflected the 19th-century time period, with Lord Aster (Alex O’Connor, MCAS ʼ20) wearing a long, stately coat with a top hat, or Molly’s caretaker, Mrs. Bumbrake (Erica Fallon, CSOM ʼ18) wearing a high-neckline dress with a full, ruffled skirt. When the pirates of the Wasp and the crew of the Neverland face off in the sea, the bows of each ship roll onto the stage. While the Wasp was painted regally in navy blue and yellow trim, the Neverland looked to be a ramshackle ship made of rotted planks. There were even hand-held model ships to introduce the two ships at the start of the play, which were only onstage for a moment, but which helped the audience latch onto the action early on. In the front of the stage, a small pit filled with clear and blue balls created the “sea” into which characters would occasionally fall, which was both essential to the story and added to the spectacle of the show.
One of the strengths of the show involved its comedic elements. When the two ships faced off in a battle for the treasure chest, the fighting was extremely high stakes, decided by thumb wars and rounds of rock-paper-scissors. A boxing-match microphone even descended from the ceiling to call a fight between the captains of the Wasp and the Neverland, the amusing results of which lead the Neverland captain to jump into the ball-pit sea, overwhelmed with his own mommy issues. Another running joke in the performance stemmed from Lord Aster’s insistence on communicating with Molly in code language, one of which was “Dodo,” which sounds like senseless babbling and which always garnered lots of laughs from the audience.
Overall, the play developed a handful of misfit characters who were all striving to find their place in the world and live up to their dreams. While heroic acts gave way to egregiously unfortunate mishaps, the play captured the hearts and imagination of the audience with flawed, humanized characters striving to adjust to the demands of a world forcing them to grow up.
Featured Image by Sam Zhai / Heights Staff