Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Peter Pan Goes Wrong invites you to watch the latest show by the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, a production of Peter Pan which starts badly and ends in a medley of perfectly orchestrated chaos. It's an old trope, of course: a group of incompetents try to put on a play and we watch as they fail. But this production is like watching the blueprint for how that trope should be done. For the most part, it’s very, very funny.

In the best traditions of British slapstick – a tradition which instinctively knows that watching a man hanging upside down on a wire with his bum on show is hilarious

In the best traditions of British slapstick – a tradition which instinctively knows that watching a man hanging upside down on a wire with his bum on show is hilarious – the jokes never let up. Yet the show also contains a certain amount of narrative within the main story; there's a basic plot and subplot in there, and it adds a sense of coherence to the show.

The attention to detail is particularly impressive. Each ‘actor’ in the Cornley's production has a distinct personality that really shines through, and you can read their fictional bios, along with a lot of other brilliant stuff, in the programme. They've even gone to the lengths of making subtle grammatical mistakes in the ‘actor’- written sections. It's a level of dedication which, of course, makes its way onto the stage too, and there are plenty of quiet, clever little jokes amongst the big stuff.

In such a glowing ensemble, it’s difficult to pick out any individual performances, but Laurence Pears – as the director Chris Bean – is an excellent physical actor with a special skill for rigid pomposity. At the other end of the spectrum, Leonie Hill’s Sandra brings a lot of laughs with her abundantly self-confident over-acting.

This is a production with only one miss-step. Amid a cast of intelligently drawn characters is the director’s niece, Lucy (Rosie Abraham). The primary joke about her character is that she has a stutter. That’s it. That’s the joke. And it’s not one in which the character has any agency. When we laugh at the other characters, we laugh at them on their own terms, at things they choose to do. Here, we're simply asked to laugh at Lucy for having a disability. It's a real shame that in such an otherwise thoughtful, clever show, it hasn't occurred to anyone that making fun of disabled people is not OK.

For the most part, however, it's all good clean fun. This is a stunningly executed, laugh-out-loud show with enough moments of unexpected subtlety to turn laughter into wide-eyed delight.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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The Blurb

Following its smash hit success with the The Play That Goes Wrong which now returns to the West End, Mischief Theatre Company (Winners of the 2014 Whatsonstage ‘Best New Comedy’ Award) bring their hilarious new spin on a family favourite to the stage.

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society set out to present J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of Peter Pan, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong…does, as the accident prone thespians embark on a thrilling adventure to Neverland, with hilariously disastrous results.

Don’t miss this hysterical new laugh-out-loud comedy. Guaranteed fun for everyone, especially adults.