Reviews

Peter Pan Goes Wrong review – Mischief fly back into the West End with delightfully disastrous results

The production will be sprinkling fairy dust at the Lyric Theatre until 14 January

A scene from Peter Pan Goes Wrong in the West End
The company of Peter Pan Goes Wrong, © Pamela Raith

Mischief’s farcical take on J M Barrie’s ever-young tale is back for another festive stint in the West End, and though the Goes Wrong schtick may now be familiar, it continues to prove a crowd-pleasing formula.

The new cast, which features three original company members in Nancy Zamit, Harry Kershaw and Charlie Russell, work tirelessly to keep the laughs coming, as the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s dream of a perfect performance unravels in front of our eyes.

Pompous director Chris Bean (Kershaw) is determined it not become a panto, while hapless stage manager Trevor (Chris Leask) is struggling to get to grips with the circuitry. Leading man Jonathan (Greg Tannahill) is having an affair with co-star Sandra (Russell), much to the disappointment of nepotistically cast Max (Matthew Cavendish). Meanwhile, Annie (Zamit) is frantically tripling as Tinker Bell, Mrs Darling and the Maid, and assistant director Robert (Matthew Howell) is too big for the dog flap.

The whole thing, of course, quickly spirals out of control, as the flying Peter starts bouncing off the set like a pinball, the radio prompter for John Darling/Smee (Clark Devlin) tunes to the FM frequency, and Tootles (Ellie Morris) shows no signs of getting past her crippling stage-fright. Gurning narrator Francis (Jean-Luke Worrell) attempts to paper over the many cracks, with predictably disastrous results.

As with its stablemate across town, many of the biggest laughs come from set malfunctions, which it would be churlish to spoil, and there is some deceptively skilful physical comedy from the cast as they hurl themselves around the increasingly shambolic production. Although a few gags in Adam Meggido’s well-oiled machine of a show get over-egged to the point of curdling, and a couple miss the mark entirely, most land smoothly (unlike Peter) and will put a smile on the face of the most hardened Scrooge.

There’s also some surprising poignancy towards the late stages, which reveal a reverence for the source material, and a clever reworking of the Tinker Bell revival scene. As ever with Mischief, the whole thing is fundamentally a love letter to live performance, and though it’s easy to eye-roll at the sheer broadness of it, there’s also very little point in resisting its manifest charms. Especially seeing as it’s panto season (sorry Chris).

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Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Closed: 14 January 2024