Peter Pan Goes Wrong – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

Writers: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields

Director: Adam Meggido

There’s no doubting the world-wide success of Mischief Theatre’s “Goes Wrong” series, both on stage and the small screen. From the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to theatre above the pub at The Old Red Lion in 2012 to global phenomenon, they have, as a theatre company, single-handedly revived British farce.

But, after over a decade of theatrical shenanigans is the slapstick schtick still able to raise a laugh or is it all wearing a bit thin?

True to the Mischief Theatre’s formula, Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are at it again. This time it’s the turn of J.M. Barrie’s beloved classic Peter Pan to get mangled in the mayhem. “It’s not a pantomime,” bellows director Chris Bean (Jack Michael Stacey), “it’s a traditional Christmas vignette” in case we’re in any doubt. That said, all the classic elements of Barrie’s tale are here, enough to keep the story flowing amid all the madness.

Every well-worn cliché from the amateur dramatic world is here, from props going awry, the set malfunctioning, off-cue sound effects, inappropriate relationships, energetic but utterly awful choreography shoe-horned into the plot and stage hands who make more appearances on stage than some of the actors. There’s a director who has more confidence than he has a clue, much stage mis-management and some quite frankly questionable casting throughout including the not so darling Darlings.

The success of the whole endeavour relies on utter precision from cast and crew and that the considerable effort needed has to look effortless. Thankfully, the cast are universally impeccable. From a Wendy (Ciara Morris) who seems to be under the impression she’s either auditioning for a TV talent show or a dodgy R&B video with her highly inappropriate ‘moves’. There’s the tightly wound director who is also our Captain Hook and is losing his scant grip on affairs as each moment passes, to the multi-tasking Annie Twilloil (Jamie Birkett), who has to quick change, with varying degrees of success, from Mrs. Darling to The Maid to a feisty, fairy light clad Tinkerbell. Their efforts are truly impressive.

There’s also a reliance on audience familiarity with the conventions of pantomime, there’s much interaction and of course, cries of “it’s behind you” and “oh, no it isn’t”. The crowd have come to fully commit to the experience.

For those who have seen The Play That Goes Wrong there’s a degree of predictability, but there’s still more than enough to keep you laughing out loud throughout. The scene between pirates Starkey and Smee is one mascara-busting, tears rolling down your face, highlight among an evening of belly-laughs.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong proves that in dark times, we all need a bit of old-fashioned, less cynical entertainment to brighten our days. Thankfully, Mischief Theatre’s much-loved work still stands the test of time.

Runs until 9 March 2024 | Image: Pamela Raith

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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