Pan & Boone

Human beings, it seems, spend a great deal of time attempting either to repress early memories or to awaken them. For the most part, these efforts are unsuccessful: those who want to forget are haunted, and those who want to remember are blocked. So it is a rare person who can perform his or her will upon memory. It is even more remarkable when someone is able to do so and then tell others how he or she accomplished this, and what this experience entailed.

In Denver native Jeff Carey's Pan & Boone, the playwright seeks to recover and examine a period of his boyhood wrapped in bedtime stories and dreams, and the slow, inexorable intrusion of adulthood upon this fanciful world. The play's two main characters are derived from stories Carey's father used to tell him and his brother. Sometimes (Daniel) Boone and (Peter) Pan represent a boy and his younger brother; sometimes they represent a boy and his alter ego.

In either case, Carey is able to capture child-like perceptions and consciousness in a manner rarely achieved. Adult words and events transmogrify into alternate realities that run the gamut from literal to imaginary, yet make perfect sense in the zero-gravity netherworld that lies between sleeping and waking.

There, rationalization turns their father's mercurial moods and creeping disillusionment into the characteristics of other men, adult concepts such as the Irish famine becomes a potato shortage, and authority figures appear in disguise, as a leprachaun, an eagle, and a doctor, to symbolically resolve issues confusing to the childhood mind. Gradually, though, time passes and the boys begin to separate themselves from their mythic counterparts and set their sights on different stars.

The structurally solid and psychologically dominant Boone is performed by Adam Bartely, who inhabits the faux buckskin costume and coonskin cap with mischievous intent. Scott Drummond, as the supportive and sensitive Pan, buffers his character's crisp, analytical personality with an ethereal quality that supports his ambiguous nature of younger brother or imaginary conceit.

Reprising the production performed at Creede Repertory Theatre this summer, Jamie Horton's direction keeps the action straightforward and understandable, even when the text drifts into obscurity. Indeed, the only shortcoming of the play is that it is, at times, too personal and arcane, too specific to the playwright's experience and not universal to his audience. A little judicious editing and some re-writing could make Pan & Boone one for the ages. It runs through November 15th at the Acoma Center. 1-866-658-2450.

Bob Bows


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