Tuesday, April 23

Peter Pan Goes gnorW – Edinburgh Playhouse

Mischief (here working with Kenny Wax Ltd and Stage Presence Ltd) is the multi award-winning company responsible for the very popular The Play That Goes Wrong, and its many conceptual spin-offs. These include the BBC One television series The Goes Wrong Show, Mind Mangler – Member of the Tragic Circle, Magic Goes Wrong, Mischief Movie Night and, of course, this evening’s Peter Pan Goes Wrong, which was directed by Adam Meggido, with help from Associate Director Fred Gray.

Like many of their shows, the concept is as complicated as the title. The ‘Cornley Drama Society’ Jake Burgum (Trevor the Stage Manager ), Jean-Luke Worrell (Francis the Narrator), Ciara Morris (Sandra / Wendy), Theo Toksvig-Stewart (Max / Michael), Clark Devlin (Dennis / John), Jamie Birkett (Annie / Tinkerbell), Gareth Tempest (Jonathan / Peter Pan) and Rosemarie Akwafo (Lucy / Tootles)) are putting on a production of Peter Pan, led by its two directors, Jack Michael Stacey (Chris/ Captain Hook) and Matthew Howell (Robert / Nana). But before the curtain has even gone up, they have already battled through interpersonal drama, professional and unprofessional differences, and technical issues, and it just goes downhill from there.

The potential for a Peter Pan show – itself a play relying on doubling-up and audience interaction before it even was a book – to go wrong is obvious. One associates the show with multiple exciting locations (set designed here by Simon Scullion), colourful characters too numerous for a practical cast number (here costumed by Roberto Surace) and, for the more panto-y tradition (a source of contention for the in-story directors) elaborate song and dance numbers, not to mention multiple characters needing to fly and fight, sometimes at the same time.

The script, by the Mischief writing trio Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, takes full advantage of the possibilities offered by flying stunts, revolving sets and electrical effects, not to mention musical moments, for which Richard Baker and Rob Falconer have written original numbers. If Noises Off was the farcical approach to this concept, this is the Tom-Cruise-Does-His-Own-Stunts version, with actors on fire, bashing into sets upside down several meters off the stage, or seemingly missing being crushed by centimetres. The cast is uniformly great, each providing their own distinctive voice to the group and energetically committed to the gags and tightly rehearsed stunts.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a great addition to the “goes wrong” genre, combining traditional slapstick and the pantomime tradition with modern technology and post-modern deconstruction for a hilarious package. The commitment to the concept spreads in every direction, with last minute running around happening as the audience comes in to take their seats, audio issues and light glitches during the interval and exit music (thanks to the lighting by Matt Haskins and sound by Ella Wahlström), and the programme containing in-character pieces from the obnoxious cast and crew. It takes more than belief to make a show work, but this one can definitely fly.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is running at the Edinburgh Playhouse until the 2nd March 2024. Tickets are available at: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/peter-pan-goes-wrong/edinburgh-playhouse/

Reviewer: Oliver Giggins

Reviewed: 27th February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.