"Please don't applaud," a character known only as The Victim tells the crowd at the outset, according to The Associated Press. "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."
But before the play could be published, Gulli says he had to unravel a mystery of mistaken identity in his own right.
The magazine had originally slated it to publish in February — but just days before they went to press, he got a phone call from his copy editor telling him another Barrie play, with a very similar name, had been broadcast about a century ago. And it was living at the Beinecke Library at Yale.
That play's name? Reconstructing the Crime — which, you'll note, sounds a whole lot like The Reconstruction of the Crime, the play publishing this week. "You're not going to blame me for thinking, 'Oh my goodness,' " Gulli says.
"So at that point, we had to remove [The Reconstruction of the Crime] from the magazine and tell the illustrator, 'I'm sorry for all your work on this, but nothing's going to come of it.' "
It was only after that February issue published — sans Barrie — that Gulli got his hands on the play they'd stumbled on at Beinecke, which he says Barrie had written alone for charity during World War I. And, remarkably similar titles notwithstanding, Gulli was surprised to find the two plays had just about nothing in common.
And so, The Reconstruction of the Crime lived again.
Ultimately, he tells NPR this clever comedy for adults should help lend further context to a career that had far more to it than just Barrie's classic children's book character.
"The thing about Barrie is we look at him and say, 'Oh, he was a children's book author or children's playwright' — but he wrote a lot of works that revolved around social justice and works that were dark," Gulli says. "This is not a guy who's primarily interested not only in children's books as much as tackling a lot of social issues."
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