Written by Ivan Faute and directed by Stephen F. Murray, The Darling Children is a play about Peter Pan’s family that sheds light on why Peter may have left for Neverland with the wish to never grow up.
The play begins with an almost bare set. Only a desk and a few chairs sit on the stage. Peter’s mother and three sisters are having breakfast. They are waiting for their maid, Harriet, who happens to have the day off. This scene is quite humorous. We watch the family discuss the absence of Harriet and their confusion. They finally decide that this week has gone straight from Tuesday to Thursday, skipping Wednesday in the middle.
The rest of the play follows in a similar style as serious issues are presented in a light-hearted manner. There are instances in the play that can be linked to the various versions of Peter Pan, but only slightly. The tale is largely left to speculation stemming from the few known facts available about J.M. Barrie and his motivation for creating Peter Pan.
The only family member who seems to still make contact with Peter is the youngest sister, Aurora. Aurora is considered the youngest and most carefree of the family. She is rumored to meet with Peter on her early morning excursions to the park. Though the other sisters do not communicate with Peter, they are still waiting for his return.
One storyline in particular stood out to me. The middle sister, Kathleen, firmly believes that the family’s dog Johannes is pregnant. The other sisters refuse to believe this because the dog is male. Lo and behold, towards the end of the play, Johannes gives birth to puppies. Kathleen names the smallest of the litter Nana, creating another tie to the classic tale.
So why is Peter missing from his darling home and family, who clearly love him dearly? In a brief interview, Faute explained that perhaps Peter was in fact dead from the very beginning of the play, only alive in the memories of his family.
Although The Darling Children gives us clues about Peter’s past, the play still leaves much to the imagination. I left wondering whether Peter ever truly existed. With an interesting take on the tale, The Darling Children is very intriguing and the actors are equally gripping. I recommend this play particularly to Peter Pan lovers because they may grasp more of the plot than most.