The latest issue of the Strand Magazine includes a play by legendary Peter Pan author JM Barrie—and it's the first time it's ever been published. But if anyone's looking for a magical journey to Neverland, you won't find it here. The editor calls The Reconstruction of the Crime a "bedroom farce that involves mistaken identity and a night full of misunderstandings in a provincial hotel," and likens it to a "hilarious" sitcom episode reminiscent of Frasier. The undated play, which the Guardian reports is 33 pages long and had been kept in the Harry Ransom Center archive at the University of Texas at Austin, opens with a character called "the victim" peering through a drawn curtain. He implores the audience, "Please don't applaud."
"This is much too serious" for clapping, he continues. " The fact is, I want to take you into my confidence: to ask your assistance. A horrible crime has been committed ... upon an inoffensive gentleman staying in a country hotel, and the guilty person has to be found." So what makes it "madcap?" as Strand editor Andrew Gulli puts it to NPR. There's a twist involving a sick husband, his wife, a mustard plaster home remedy, and room mix-up that leads the victim to believe "an attempt has been made upon his life." Barrie, who died 80 years ago, was known for "playing the crowd," per the AP. This play is not to be confused with Reconstructing a Crime, another of his works that, apart from its name, is wholly unlike the other. (A lost book by Maurice Sendak has been discovered.)