Peter Pan, Wendy And An Unexpected Science Adventure

For the longest time, Peter Pan’s friend Wendy Darling has been portrayed as mother to the Lost Boys in Neverland, as well as an occasional rival to the jealous Tinker Bell, who always seems to compete for Peter’s attention.

Thankfully, though, a new adaptation by Lauren Gunderson breaks all that and turns Wendy from a default mother to a fledgling scientist. You read that right.

Taking Science On An Unexpected Adventure

Not counting Shakespeare, Gunderson, 37 years old and based in San Francisco, is easily the most produced dramatist and playwright in America this season, authoring a wide slew of works from a post-modern black-comic riff on the French revolution, to Jane Austen pastiches, to most recently, an adaptation of Shakespeare Theater Company’s “Peter Pan and Wendy,” stamping her own handprint in its history. This is because while Wendy is traditionally portrayed as a simple child, Gunderson’s work takes her to the next level by turning her into a young scientist.

In fact, it’s not the first that Gunderson has done a similar thing since her particular specialty lies in making plays about historical female scientists. This includes “Silent Sky,” which is about female astronomers in the 1900s, “The Half-Life of Marie Curie,” which is now off-Broadway, and “Ada and the Engine,” which is about Ada Lovelace, a 19th-century mathematician. In fact, she has been recognized for it more than once, landing the top slot in American Theater Magazine’s ranking of this season’s most-staged playwrights, a title that she also held last 2017-18.

“I found in Wendy an incredible bravery, as well as curiosity,” Gunderson said, noting that while J.M. Barrie’s heroine might not seem to fit her adaptation, she still saw a connection to her. Furthermore, Gunderson, having two boys herself, said that she wanted to make the classic story’s theme of boyhood and manhood include womanhood, feminist and girlhood elements as well.

Besides making Wendy into a young scientist, Gunderson also decided to remove the part where the heroine offered Peter a kiss when they first met.

“I’m sorry, this random boy just walked into your room and you want to give him a kiss?” the playwright mused.

peter-886132_960_720 Peter Pan, the classic character from J.M. Barrie's timeless story. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)