Oscar E Moore

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FOR PETER PAN ON HER 70th BIRTHDAY – Sarah Ruhl’s homage to her mom

September 14th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

Sarah Ruhl’s mom Kathleen grew up playing Peter Pan in Iowa. As in why oh why oh why-o?  Excuse me that’s Ohio.  In any event she played Peter in Community Theater in Iowa.


Now Kathleen Chalfant is portraying Sarah’s mom portraying Peter as the character Ann – one of five siblings gathered for the any-minute-now death of their Father (Ron Crawford) who lies in state in his hospital bed having his feet massaged by Wendy (Lisa Emery) as we all wait for him to succumb to cancer.  It takes quite a while.  Actually the whole of the first part of three in this one act play, Off Broadway production at Playwrights Horizon – which could be labeled Waiting for Death.  They pray.  They snack.  They sleep.  He finally dies.

The second part is a celebration of his life – drinking and conversing around the affable family’s dinner table with the ghostly spirit of dad floating around.  The only conflict, it seems, to be over politics.  I won’t go there.

They remember dad’s bad puns and what a good old time they all had as a close knit Irish- Catholic family.   A little bit of this a little bit of that.  More drinking.  They do have differing views but they come across as part of one egg and one sperm.  They have a problem with growing old and dying.  Don’t we all.

One of the Big Questions pondered is – When did you feel you were a grownup?

It isn’t until part three – a fantasy of the sibs as the characters in Peter Pan that we find some enjoyment despite it being a bit ridiculous.  I particularly liked Keith Reddin as Michael and David Chandler as Hook.  Nicely staged by Les Waters.

Kathleen Chalfant seems to have been waiting throughout her illustrious career to finally Crow! As Peter Pan.  She is terrific.  As usual.  Despite some flying this Peter peters out as a play.

I have never been a fan of Ms. Ruhl – with all due respect to her many productions and accomplishments.  I remain in that corner.

There is a musical interlude as we go from hospital bed to dining room table of When The Saints Go Marching In.  Kudos to set designer David Zinn who gives this production a Broadway sheen.

The distinction between Broadway and Off seems to be diminishing.

There is a wonderful dog – Macy – who either is adverse to applause or forgot to take a curtain call.

It’s a nice gesture to her mom – but really?  90 minutes.  No intermission.  Through Oct 1st


Photos:  Jessica Fallon Gordon/Joan Marcus

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