Peter Pan Goes Wrong does everything right
So last night, Squish and I were whisked away to that magical place where boys and girls can never get older: Neverland. Although this Neverland was possibly the clumsiest and funniest land of adventure we’d ever seen on stage. Peter Pan Gone Wrong takes the classic tale by J.M. Barrie and literally turns it on its head…and then drops it onto the stage floor with a bump.
Adapted by Susie Brideswell and officially directed by Adam Meggido (despite what characters Chris and Robert say), this show had us laughing before the curtain had even been raised. With the show runners doing their best to warm up the audience and then a brief introduction by the straight-laced Chris and extremely excited Robert we knew we were in for a treat. Especially when it was revealed that due to “unforeseen circumstances” Robert (a 40-something year old man, playing a 60-something year old man) would now be playing the part of Michael Darling (a 5 year old boy). Credit goes to Robert (real name Cornelius Booth) who was ridiculously convincing as an older man, and it only took me finding him on Google to be convinced that he wasn’t actually 60+ years old.
The Mischief Theatre (@MischiefComedy over on Twitter) do an immense job of making mistakes look perfect. The timing of all the stunts and “blunders” is spot on and in the end you can’t help but get carried along for the ride, whilst simultaneously fearing for every individual actor’s life. This is, without a doubt, slapstick at its finest, even down to one of the actors being so nervous his lines have to be fed to him through an earpiece…which, since this is Peter Pan Goes Wrong, of course starts to pick up other nearby radio stations resulting in ridiculously funny song lyrics.
I have to admit, once looking at the mostly adult audience I thought Squish may have been a bit too young to fully enjoy the show. I couldn’t have been more wrong, as there were some parts where I heard a laugh from him that I’ve not actually heard before! I would probably say anyone younger than 3 or 4 years old might not get all of the humour, but if they’re anything like Squish (who loves all kinds of physical comedy) they’ll enjoy it for sure. The show has something for everyone and any production that can get around 100+ adults clapping their hands to “I do b-b-believe in fairies” is definitely doing all the right things in captivating its audience.
One of the great parts for me personally were the little pokes at the characters themselves and how they’re normally portrayed. Leonie Hill, who plays Wendy Darling, overacts the hell out of her character, and thinking back to all the portrayals I’ve seen it’s an absolutely genius move. From the over exaggerated hand gestures (plenty of emotional air grabs), to the bounding across the stage, she sells the slightly overbearing Wendy perfectly. Alex Bartram’s version of Peter Pan is brilliantly played up to be a more-than-usual arrogant (and slightly womanising) take on J.M. Barrie’s iconic character, forcing us to root for a much more unlikely hero. Not to mention the must-be-fitter-than-most-people Naomi Sheldon who plays 4 separate characters in the production, 3 of which need to be on the stage at the same time in most scenes.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a pantomime that outright refuses to be a pantomime. This is partly down to director Chris’s (Laurence Pears) hilarious efforts in attempting to stop the audience shouting “it’s behind you”, “oh no it isn’t” and all other panto-related lines. Behind only 3 rows from the front, Squish even got told off by Captain Hook (Laurence Pears) himself for joining in with the fun. I believe the highly accurate term “insolent child” was used, although Squish seemed very proud of himself afterwards.
As you might have guessed we really enjoyed ourselves watching Peter Pan Goes Wrong and I think it has a little something for all ages, especially those who love the fine art of physical comedy. And in how many other productions of Peter Pan, does the crocodile get to be the good guy?
But don’t just take my word for it, here’s what Squish thought of the show (caution, there’s excessive nodding)
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is currently showing at Manchester’s Lowry Theatre until Sunday 11th January 2015 and then heads over to Malvern Theatres in Worcestershire on the 20th (for more tour dates check here). It already has 5 star reviews from ‘What’s on Stage’ and the Daily Mail. We thoroughly recommend you check it out.
Disclaimer: for the purpose of this review, we went to this production free of charge however all opinions are our own.