Emma Bennett— Staff Writer
On Saturday Oct. 16, I attended the Dordt University Theatre Arts Department’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher. I had never read the book or seen the play before, so I arrived with no expectations. Upon entering the theatre, I discovered to my delight that the tickets I bought for my mother and I sat us in the very front row. I chatted with a friend sitting near me before the opening curtain and he informed me that the show was interactive. Now, more nervous, I settled into my seat as the lights dimmed and the show began.
As soon as the play started, my nerves dissolved as the actors scrambled down the aisles and scattered onto the floor in front of the stage. The plot focused on the adventures of three boys: Ted (David Skinner, senior), Prentiss (Lynn Smit, freshman), and Boy (Sam Landstra, senior). These “lost boys” are sold by their schoolmaster into slavery to the king of Rundoon, and are marched aboard a small ship called the Neverland. This ship, unbeknownst to them, carries the cargo of two trunks: one full of stand and the other full of “the Queen’s precious cargo.”
Lord Leonard Aster (Hans Dykstra, senior) is tasked with protecting the Queen’s cargo and accompanying it to Rundoon. But Aster has another matter to tend to as well: his daughter, Molly Aster (Sommer Schaap, junior). Molly begs her father to let her go on his “mission,” but he refuses. The lord sends Molly aboard the Neverland for a safer, slower passage, while he leaves on the Wasp. Here, the play really kicks off.
Once at sea, Molly forms a friendship with the lost boys, and especially Boy, as she leads them to food and introduces them to bedtime stories. The growing fancy between Boy and Molly was endearing to watch unfold on stage, as well as the power struggle between Molly and Prentiss, the self-proclaimed leader.
The plot takes a turn when the Wasp is overtaken by pirates and Molly discovers that the trunks were swapped. The Neverland now holds the important cargo that she must return to her father. As it turns out, Molly is a Starcatcher-in-training. In Peter and the Starcatcher, the starcatchers are a group of people who safeguard a magical, transformative substance called Starstuff.
During this ship-jacking, pirates board the Neverland, a melee breaks out, and the weather-beaten ship cracks in half. Amidst this frenzy, Boy is given the name of Peter by the show’s villain, the dreaded pirate captain Black Stache (Sam Walhof, senior). Unfortunately, Peter is thrown overboard by the pirate only moments later, and Molly pushes the trunk into the sea for her growing love interest to float to Mollusk Island.
Arriving on the island, Peter is fully swept up in his adventure with Starstuff. The young boy encounters fish—now turned to mermaids—a tribe of scorned cooks bent on destroying anyone who is English, and even a giant, flying crocodile.
Eventually, when everything is resolved, Peter finds himself unable to leave the island due to his contamination with the Starstuff and he is forced to part with Molly. Despite the sadness he feels, Peter finds that this island, with its magic and his friends, is everything that he had always been searching for: a home.
Peter and the Starcatcher was incredibly entertaining, and the packed theatre roared with laughter often. Black Stache, as a poet pirate looking for a purpose in his villainy, was often prone to comical misuse of words and corrected by his first mate, Smee (Nathan Hopkins, sophomore).
On the other hand, the play offered heart-breaking depictions of Peter’s past, which contributed to his distrust of grownups. He starts out as lost and longs for a family. This made the play’s ending bittersweet, as Peter was so close to having a typical family with Molly and Lord Aster. However, the audience is not left unsatisfied as they, along with Peter, discover a new type of family that is present on the island. The actors were fantastic to watch and embraced the childish elements of the play, readily leaning into its ridiculous scenes. They made use of the minimal set and unconventional props to create a truly magical experience which the Dordt community will remember for a long time.