NEVER MAN’S LAND Written and directed by Tristan R. Whiston (Red Dress). At Alchemy Theatre (133 Tecumseth). To February 10. Pwyc-$15. 416-629-8795. Rating: NN
Sometimes even the smartest people make bad theatre. That’s what’s happening at Alchemy Theatre, where Tristan R. Whiston’s Never Man’s Land attempts to mine James Barrie’s Peter Pan story to create a meditation on grief, loss, love and gender identity.
There’s some poignant writing here, but the piece is a mystifying mess of ideas: there are many Wendys, Peter keeps morphing, and how Captain Hook is relevant to the trans theme is never made clear.
As the central performer, Canon Cook lacks the chops or the charisma to seize an audience and get us emotionally involved. A potentially potent segment in which, as Wendy, she describes childhood friends pulling down her pants simply dies. Christopher Cauley displays more energy as Hook and Mr. Darling, and Anna Camilleri has some presence in multiple roles.
But the thing is over an hour too long, has no dramatic tension and almost zero theatricality. Make Never Man’s Land a prose poem and keep it on the page. Or bring in a clear-eyed dramaturge; Whiston’s well connected enough to know some good ones.
As it is, the show has the same problem as Whiston’s famous former project, the Boy Choir of Lesbos. Great name (and there’s an idea in there somewhere), not so great execution.