My recent Macbeth piece at McSweeney’s brought to mind an earlier work I wrote for CBC Radio’s “Breakaway” a number of years ago. The occasion was a production of Peter Pan at the Stratford Festival, famously a Shakespeare festival, and Peter Pan is famously not Shakespeare. But what if Shakespeare had written Peter Pan? Presenting the dramatic debut of a soliloquy by Captain Hook in Peter Pan by William Shakespeare.
Avast, me hearties. For though thou art heartless, thou art my kinsmen, my swashbuckling brethren that forge these watery ways, thou art stuck upon my heart, my black heart, whose very pulsation resoundeth with the dread and terrible call of Pan. Peter Pan. Oh, how I shall pan thee. I shall pan thee as the film critic doth pan the cinematic scourge of M. Night Shyamalan. Peter Pan. Green-leotarded dervish that impeth its way into my black core, scurvying in place, nestling into a tumourous hatred. A pox upon thee, Peter Pan.
Is this a hook I see before me? Steely grappler that knoweth not the touch of flesh nor how to turn a doorknob. Yea, thou art equipped to pierce a passing canapé amongst a passel of pirates at a cocktail hour. But where art thou thumb? Where art thou fingers? Where art thou jewel-encrusted pinky ring? Languish thou in the bilious crocodilian darkness? Severed from thy vital root, longeth thou to point, to wave, to scratch, to linger in a fire-gleaming cavern and make bunny rabbit shadows on the wall?
Would that his calamitous dagger had smited me, divised me into bite-sized morsels, yea, unto pieces of eight. Fortune would then be my favour rather than left unwhole, a captain with a yardarm and one arm. Handily unhanded, I am unmanned by Peter Pan.
What a piece of work is Pan. Beset by the diaphanous Tiger Lily he desireth not. Clung to like a fully stitched shadow by apple-cheeked Wendy in her nightshirt, so rich a booty ne’er seen before, and yet this darling lass he spurneth, as the Lost Boys doth shun the onset of puberty. Beloved by dust-encrusted fairy, whose tinkering bell were it mine alone would unrust this unidextrous heart, lo, it would shiver me very timbers. But, nay, he will on his flitty-flighty ways while I, even were my name Roger, t’would not be jolly Roger. For though I be ever captain, I never love, never embrace, Neverland.
But beware, young Pan, thou scurvy dog, beware the tides of March. For even as the crow’s nest carries forth nary a crow but a plentitude of seagulls and the occasional midshipman, so too shall we ride westward upon the western tide to thy lair. So hie thee hence. Go west, young Pan. For we shall cry havoc and unslip the seadogs of war.
Friends, bosuns, drunken men, lend me your privateers. We few, we unhappy few, we band of smugglers, let us sail forth unto Pan’s lair where with valiant hearts we shall land on the sand with cutlasses raised. Once more onto the beach, dear friends!
But hark! What’s sound is this? By the pricking of my thumbs, something ticking this way comes. Tis my reptilian foe that hath gobbled my one portion and would have the whole. He hath a lean and hungry look. Woe is me! How I wish I had else to satisfy its appetite. A horse! A horse! My shipdom for a horse!
Enough sound and fury! Let us fly, men, not with pixie dust but as the wind, away from this ravenous quadrapedic chronograph. Make haste with your weaponry. Bring them forth so we might set sail. Pass them thus to one of my loyal crew. To which man? Methinks Mr. Smee, but perhaps he be too unreliable. To Smee or not to Smee, that is the question.