What if Albert Einstein had developed his Theory of Relativity when he was younger? Or Charles Darwin had been a mere schoolkid trying to convince his fellow students of the viability of the evolution of species? The mockery would never have ended…until they proved themselves. In proving themselves, however, both would still have become iconic revolutionaries forcing everyone else to reposition their perspective of what is possible. And, as Thomas Wolfe did not say, but very might have under the circumstances, icons cannot go home again.
Such is the underlying message of Peter Parnell’s second play to ever get produced in the Big Apple. The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket premiered at the end of 1982 and presents a symbolic portrait of every brilliant person whose brilliance demands that everybody question everything they thought they could take for granted in the world. In Daniel’s case, it is the ability to fly. To fly so effortlessly in the face of what can be taken for granted that when he finally must prove his ability to a deeply suspicious group of middle-school classmates, he realizes he must take the pointless step of fastening homemade wings on himself just so that he can provide some sort of realistic context to his disbelieving chums.
The first act is about the literal rise of Daniel Rocket while the second rise is more allegorical as the second act looks at Daniel twenty year down the road when he has become famous for defying everything we take for granted. Can an iconic revolutionary ever go home again and fit in where he never fit it the first time around? That is the crux of the conflict at the heart of this drama that is both oddly touching and almost painfully real.