Am dram groups up and down the land will be familiar with the fluctuating emotions that go hand in hand with staging a festive pantomime. It can be a roller coaster ride of giddy highs and soul-destroying lows – from watching helplessly as the carefully crafted scenery unexpectedly clatters to the ground, to the euphoria of the applause at the final curtain call.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a comedy about one such group staging one such show, namely the fictional Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, who are performing J.M Barrie’s fantastical fairytale of the boy who wouldn’t grow up. In a similar manner to farces such as Noises Off, we get to see both sides of the action – the behind-the-scenes panic, and the on-stage chaos – as the group juggles technical hiccups with more personal problems. Ego, talent, and infidelity cause just as many headaches as the power cuts and scenery failures in a show that stays true to the adage that if something can go wrong, it probably will.
Performed by Mischief who are ‘serious about silliness’, the group’s work will be familiar to many thanks to previous successes The Play That Goes Wrong and the BBC series The Goes Wrong Show, as well as a TV adaption of this very show which has toured extensively in the last decade. Directed by Adam Meggido, it is something of an immersive experience that starts from the moment you enter the auditorium. The ensemble cast mingles with the audience as they conduct their pre-show checks, before retreating to the stage where a revolving set provides the backdrops needed to depict Victorian London and the wonders of Neverland.
The comedy is sharp, witty, and relentless, and is delivered with some excellent timing and physical stunts. While the humour might not be the subtlest, and some of the punchlines can be seen from several miles away, they are no less funny when they hit; in fact, they are that much funnier as a result. It might not be big and it might not be clever, but collapsing beds, wardrobe malfunctions, dogs stuck in doors, and unconscious stage-hands hanging from the rafters can be very, very funny.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a warm-hearted comedy that does exactly what you’d hope from such a show, mixing up slick slapstick routines with a solid family friendly storyline. Although members of amateur dramatic groups might want to watch it through their fingers.
Until Jan 27