“Darlings” started as 1 show. And then it became 2 shows. And then it became 1 show again. Carrie and I were looking to make a show for young audiences. Carrie loves “Peter Pan,” so I thought “Why not? That’s as good as story as any.” Sometimes that’s how it starts. Not with something that you’re extremely passionate about, but something that seems liks a good starting point. And eventually you find your way to the idea that excites you.
So we started with the idea of doing a production of “Peter Pan” for young audiences. Problem? It didn’t interest us that much. The more we thought and talked, we found ourselves getting interested in the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Darling. What are they doing while their children are gone? How does this all effect them? So we came up with the idea of a show about Mr. and Mrs. Darling, an epic adventure about two parents traveling the globe searching for their missing children. On the trail of the mysterious Peter Pan and his Neverland. And in moments, the parents might dream of what their children are doing….
The only problem was that we weren’t sure if this new idea was going to be a show for young audiences. But we came up with a solution! What about 2 shows? A straight forward version of “Peter Pan” for young audiences, AND a more mature story about Mr. and Mrs. Darling searching for their children. Both shows would use the same set pieces and props, and even share similar images, so that if you saw both shows you could find a lot of great connections between them.
And then we finally hit upon it. You see, I had never read “Peter Pan” growing up, or seen the Disney movie or anything like that. And as I read it, I was struck by how dark it was. To me (and Carrie) it didn’t seem like a children’s story at all. So it occurred to me that we might combine the 2 shows. What about the show that’s about Mr. and Mrs. Darling acting out the Peter Pan story? Two parents, stricken with grief from their children’s disappearance, doing their best to cope? When you read “Peter Pan” through this perspective it takes on a whole new dimension of meaning that completely works. “Peter Pan” goes back and forth between playful whimsy and a real darkness, which mirrors Mr. and Mrs. Darling’s emotions as they try to deal with their loss. This really got me excited. It seemed interesting, and new, and difficult to pull off.
I pitched it to Carrie, and she got excited too. Probably not a show for young audiences anymore, but in the end you can never decide what show you’re going to make, you just find it. And there you have it, we had a concept.