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Theatre Review: Peter Pan Goes Wrong - Theatre Royal, Glasgow ✭✭✭✭

 Review by Sharman Prince

Following the success of The Play That Goes Wrong, which recently won Best Comedy at the Olivier Awards, Mischief Theatre presents another riotous, anarchic piece of theatrical glee: Presented as a play within a play we see a disorganised theatre group present an ostensibly 'straight' adaptation of J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan".

Creating a follow-up to The Play That Goes Wrong must have been a truly daunting task but, for the most part, Peter Pan Goes Wrong is as enjoyable as Mischief's original play although it, inevitably, lacks a little of the former's originality and freshness. Peter Pan Goes Wrong does manage, however, to find new variations, built within the plot of Barrie's play, which allow for further explorations of farce and physical comedy including, of course, flying!

Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields have written a script that manages to keep the essential points of Barrie's original story whilst allowing themselves leeway to orchestrate a production that is appropriately chaotic and shambolic and is in keeping with the "... Goes Wrong" idea of the off-stage shenanigans regularly interrupting the 'play' being presented. Indeed, this piece goes further and references more off-stage happenings than the writers' previous work and they have  stretched the possibilities that lie within the various disciplines that create theatre - lighting, sound, visuals and even text are all potential hazards in live theatre and here what can go wrong does go wrong. The authors even manage to address the idea of "Peter Pan" as a pantomime - something which Barrie disliked - to comedic effect.


Adam Meggido's direction compliments the shoddy, am-dram nightmare of the script although some jokes are drawn out a little too long onstage and some sequences feel a trifle laboured and may benefit from further work. 

The set design by Simon Scullion recreates the worst kind of amateur performance space with flat, two-dimensional, artwork and clumsy furniture. It is, naturally, a very intelligent, clever design that is based on a revolve which is also used to utmost comedic effect. In fact, there is nothing that is not prone to 'accident' in this production and the costumes, by Roberto Surace, are equally a part of the fun. Matt Haskins' lighting is also excellently used as a comedic element of the play.

Very much an ensemble piece, the actors perform with such flair and energy that they are able to conjure up a feeling of disorder and turmoil so complete yet are able to remain precise in their timing and physical activity throughout. The whole company is strong and vary from the more outgoing “Robert Grove” of Cornelius Booth to the quieter, down-trodden “Max Bennett” of Matt Cavendish. Leonie Hill’s Beyonce-wannabe “Sandra Wilkinson” is a physical spectacle as is Naomi Sheldon’s “Annie Twilloil” who is cursed with several costume quick-changes, whilst Laurence Pears’ “Chris Bean” is a demanding creation who interacts well with the audience and ad-libs with confidence. Once again Mischief Theatre play with the types of character who are drawn to performing and many a type is recognisable to anyone who has been a member of an amateur performing group.

Whilst not as original as The Play That Goes Wrong Mischief Theatre have created another hilarious, energetic, physical farce in Peter Pan Goes Wrong which is a testament to the talents and creativity of all involved in its production. 

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 18th April. For tickets and information visit www.atgtickets.com/Glasgow

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