by GRACE DROST, Chantilly High School
What happens when the damsel in distress becomes the hero? Oakton High School answered this question by beautifully capturing Wendy Darling’s side of the story in its production of “Wendy and Peter Pan.”
Based on the 1904 play “Peter Pan” by J.M. Barrie, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company created “Wendy and Peter Pan” as a feminist and more in-depth interpretation of the classic story. The play focuses on Wendy’s wish to have her own adventure, instead of solely playing “mother” to the Lost Boys.
She journeys through Neverland on a quest to find her lost brother, learning more about her own abilities and grief along the way.
Wendy (Gwen Ihde) was a powerful vessel of both mature and childlike energy, balancing exceptionally well between the two.
Ihde handled quick emotional changes with ease, soaking the air with her pain when she had to let her little brother go. She filled the stage with purpose and strength, proving Wendy to be an influential force.
Peter Pan (Colt Craddock) was a perfect match to Ihde’s dual energies. Instead of switching between emotions, Craddock masterfully developed Peter Pan over the course of the show, from reckless and nonchalant to more caring and attentive.
Craddock’s physical humor was amazing, as well. Each of his many pratfalls were unique and comic.
One of the pirates, Martin the Cabin Boy (Milad Shahbazi), was a hysterical presence on stage. He stole the show in every scene he was in, delivering one-liners that always had the audience laughing. Shahbazi did an excellent job of conveying Martin’s difference from the other pirates through timid body language and a softer voice.
The tech elements of the show built a stunning fantasy world for the characters to live in.
The sets (Shane Roy) were numerous, including a decked-out Darling bedroom, a menacing pirate ship, and an enchanting tree home in the forest for the Lost Boys. Each set was incredibly detailed and colorful with many levels and staircases for the actors to play around with. The lighting (J.J. Feeny and River Le) was crucial in fully immersing the audience into the story.
Many scenes and entrances took place within the aisles of the audience and lights were stationed around the seats to capture the viewers within the story.
Lighting also established the outdoorsy setting of the show with projected stars on the ceiling and an impressive lightning effect during the storm that Peter Pan’s shadow arrived with.
The most exciting aspect of the show was the working fly system (Eliot Hettler). It was used to make Peter Pan and the Darling children fantastically float across the stage. The fly system team magically hooked and unhooked each character into the wires, unseen by the audience.
Underneath the starlit ceiling was a gracefully told story of women’s empowerment and the importance of family in difficult times. Oakton High School’s production of “Wendy and Peter Pan” was an exceptionally well-done ode to Wendy’s version of the classic tale.
The Sun Gazette partners with the Critics and Awards Program (CAPPIES) to present student-written reviews of local high-school theater productions.
For more on the initiative, see the Web site at www.cappies.com/nca/.