Sir James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937), best remembered as the creator of Peter Pan, was a Scottish author and dramatist whose works have enjoyed frequent revivals in film and on stage. One of his most penetrating and socially critical plays was "The Admirable Crichton", which first appeared in 1902 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. The comical play deals with questions of social hierarchy, and sheds light on a society where rank is established by birth, not by intelligence or ability. Crichton, the main character, is a respectful butler in the house of Lord Loam, quite content with his station in life. However, when he and a group of British aristocrats become stranded on a desert island, a startling role reversal takes place. Less shocking now than to the theatre-going public of 1902, the themes of natural selection and a flawed class-system in "The Admirable Crichton" are still very relevant today.
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Published April 1, 2011
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