From the same team that brought audiences ‘The Play that Goes Wrong”, for this production they took a similar concept, made it PG rated within the beloved story of Peter Pan. This show was full of laughs and surprises from the moment you take your seats until some time after the show has officially ended! I had missed out on seeing “The Play that Goes Wrong” (clearly a mistake on my part!) so I was determined not to miss out on this production – especially as “Peter Pan” is one of my favourite stories from childhood. With a theatre buddy at my side, we reached our seats only to be bombarded by a cacophony of action happening in the theatre pre-show. This madcap start of the show contributed to set the expectations of the evening of theatre before us.
To describe each bit of comedy / scene mishap that occurs during the show would a) make this review like a thesis and b) ensure no one would be interested to see a future production so I will try to keep this review (fairly) brief. Of course, the production features all of your favourite characters from the Peter Pan story: the Darling Children and parents, Nana the dog, Peter Pan and his lost boys, Tinkerbell, Captain Hook and his pirates as well as a cast of other humanoid animals and mermaids etc. The show is easy to follow, with act signs and story progression.
When people ask me what the show was like in general, there’s one scene I refer to: Nana the dog’s first appearance onstage. There we were, watching an adult man in a dog costume receive belly rubs and pats from other adults (dressed as the Darling children); and then Nana gets stuck in her doggy door on the way out of the scene! This sets the tone of the style of humour in the show – slapstick / physical comedy which was ridiculous at times, and cleverly scripted and rehearsed at others. I also enjoyed the stories of people behind the scenes of the production (that the audience are privy to via some of the characters) – like the co-director(Robert Grove)’s audition tapes and what happened during their previous productions. That helped to bring extra dimensions and wider stories to the show, so the audience felt like they really were seeing a play put on by the (fictional) Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society.
In terms of the comedy, most of it is broadly under the banners of physical comedy / verbal /slapstick and prop comedy, with some mime thrown into the mix. Audience participation is encouraged, which enhanced the pantomime nature of the show – much to the chagrin of Captain Hook (which just made us all laugh harder!) At many points during the show I heard people laugh until they snort, and I also witnessed children laughing, pointing and shouting with glee. It was clear that some audience members had seen this show (or its predecessor) multiple times as they seemed to know exactly what to say to the actors (and when to say it!).
If you ever come across this show (or one from the same franchise) my top tips would be to get to the theatre early and also purchase the program. The story and background to the whole show and the “company” (Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society) that puts on the play is well covered and extended via the program so I can’t recommend that enough!
Peter Pan and crew have now flown back to Neverland, however if you do have the chance to see this show then DO NOT HESITATE to get tickets! It really is a thigh slapping, ‘laugh til you cry’ kinda show…a kind of show I think we all need to see at some point.