A never-printed or produced play from Peter Pan writer J.M. Barrie was unearthed this week by The Strand magazine.
Titled The Reconstruction of a Crime, the short play was written with humorist E.V. Lucas and reportedly sat in Barrie’s archives at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas for 40 or 50 years. Now the play has been published in The Strand, which has previously published new works by authors like Mark Twain and Tennessee Williams.
The play is described as being a “sensational scene” and similar to the plot of a sitcom. The 33-page long play stars a startled character named “the Victim” who repeatedly breaks the fourth wall and asks the audience to help him find someone who has tried to kill him.
“Please don’t applaud,” the character tells the crowd at the beginning of the play. “Of course I like it; we all like it. But not just now. This is much too serious. The fact is I want to take you into my confidence: to ask your assistance. A horrible crime has been committed. An outrage almost beyond description has been perpetrated upon an inoffensive gentleman staying in a country hotel, and the guilty person has to be found.”
“The thing about Barrie is we look at him and say, ‘Oh, he was a children’s book author or children’s playwright’” Strand editor Andrew Gulli told NPR about the play. “But he wrote a lot of works that revolved around social justice and works that were dark.”