I just saw this play at the Ahmanson Theatre here in L.A. earlier this week, and wanted to share my experience! I first heard about it from watching the Tony Awards last year (they did got a few great awards!) and I was curious about this prequel to Peter Pan. I don't usually go to plays, I much prefer musicals, and I felt a little bit sad this wasn't a musical because there is one musical number in the show at the top of the second act, and it was so good! They seemed to pick actors who have fantastic voices. Such a shame.
But I did have issues with the first half of the play. There are 12 people in the cast portraying a number of different characters and even scene props which was really ingenious. But it could be confusing sometimes - not so much when they are playing different characters, but when they are props and I wasn't sure what their function was. The set design and the way they suggested their surroundings with a minimal amount of props was really clever though, and I enjoyed seeing how everything came together. The other issues I had with the first half was because I was just a little bored with the story. Maybe I was just tired, but the story didn't grab me until the second half when they went to an island that would become Neverland. There is a lot going on in the first half too - with two ships, two different sets of pirates, and an entirely new fantastical element with the starcatchers. It's interesting that Peter isn't really the star of the show until the second half - and that it is mostly Molly, the Starcatcher - who is the leader and the mother to three precursor Lost Boys. Although it is nice that Molly is the one who helps Peter reach his potential, I didn't really connect with either Molly or Peter during the course of the show sadly. I think it's mainly because I didn't like where their characters ended up in the end.
The best part of the show though - and the main reason to see it! - is Black Stache. The precursor Captain Hook. Who's manic and foppish and such a great psychotic villain! It must be such a fun role to play because you get to be completely over the top and you get an awesome mustache! And in the scene towards the end where Black Stache reacts to something terrible that happens and we get five minutes of "Oh my God" in different tones, languages and memes (ermahgerd) it was the show stopper and people where I was sitting were snorting, they were laughing so hard. It was made even funnier because all the actors on stage were just deadpan silent (although I feel like an actor or two cracked a bit). Seriously, best thing I've seen on stage in a while! Such a wonderful comedy moment!
The text of the play is very fun to listen too - clever, wordy and full of puns - it goes by a little too fast sometimes, but I enjoyed it, and all the self-referential humor, breaking the third wall, and the anachronistic jokes. I did feel satisfied with the whole experience of the show, even though I wasn't too impressed by the first act so if you see it coming near you, definitely watch it! And thank me later after you fall in love with Black Stache!