Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Tour - Salford)
Peter Pan Goes Wrong if you've see it go right, says Carmel Thomason.
If ever there was a title that told you exactly what to expect, Peter Pan Goes Wrong is it. It's a spoof of the children's classic as performed by the fictitious, Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society whose infighting and internal dramas are just as colourful as the play. Before the curtain rises there are comedy stage hands making last minute, ill-fitting adjustments to the staging.
The director, Chris and his assistant, Robert, jostle for position as they introduce the production and if that wasn't a big enough clue of the mayhem to follow, when the story finally begins, Robert, who has a big, grey, bushy beard, appears wearing a pink onesie as one of the children.
Lots of obvious mishaps follow, such as wrong cues, half costume changes, and broken sets. But there are also plenty of quick fire surprises that jolt the audience into hysterics in a cartoon caper-type fashion. It takes a lot of skill to get a performance this wrong, not simply from the strong ensemble cast whose high energy keeps it bouncing along nicely, but also from the creative team. Simon Scullion's rotating set design, although intended to wobble, must be timed to perfection to ensure that no piece falls down, off or out, before it should.
I must say that I was surprised to find so many small pre-schoolers and infants in the audience. For those who still aren't sure – this isn't a traditional pantomime.
It's not that the show is on the whole unsuitable for children.There is an overall silliness about the humour that crosses all ages, and the young ones, as ever, loved jeering at Captain Hook (Laurence Pears).
That said, there is a scene where Peter Pan's shadow is briefly set alight which the small children next to me found shocking, and a fight between Wendy and her mother near the end felt a bit too much for young eyes.
Also, I felt a little disappointed for the very young ones, because how can you enjoy a spoof if you've never experienced the magic of the original? It's easy to laugh at a well-worn story as adults, but for young children, Peter Pan with its mix of flying, pirates and fairies, can be magical.
Personally, I prefer the traditional tale, but I can see that this show has a very different magic of its own. In getting it wrong, it certainly hit a right note with the much of the audience and could well win a place as a new festive favourite.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at the Lowry until 11 January.