Jeremy Menekseoglu caresses his stump as Captain Hook
  • Jeremy Menekseoglu caresses his stump as Captain Hook

No less an authority than Tony Adler of the Chicago Reader has called Jeremy Menekseoglu “one of the most ambitious, prolific, original, and gifted playwrights in Chicago.” Menekseoglu is the presiding spirit at Dream Theatre in Pilsen, where he writes, directs, and acts in practically everything that goes onstage. His enormous, often surreal output ranges from short studies of sexual anomie in Texas to an epic three-part reinvention of the Oresteia that climaxes at the dead center of hell. But Menekseoglu’s great theme is the trauma of childhood. More and more, as in recent shows like The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Billy Moon and The Devilish Children and the Civilizing Process, he’s taken to anatomizing classic children’s stories as a way to get at their horrific underpinnings.

Now he’s doing it to Peter Pan. In Menekseoglu’s new trilogy, Peter Pan’s Shadow, Pan is a much more dangerous, manipulative character than the headstrong boy J.M. Barrie created. The dark consequences of his desire to evade maturity include a mother gone mad, an anguished Tinker Bell, and a baby sister who’s been reduced, quite literally, to a shadow. The first installment opened in March; the second opens tonight at Dream Theatre, 556 W. 18th, and runs through June 10.

I’ve only seen the first piece of the trilogy, so you’re going to have to tell me where we go from there.

Kinda difficult. I guess what’s important to say right off the bat is that this isn’t like the traditional Peter Pan at all.