Peter Pan Goes Wrong is the latest comedy to arrive in Australia from the UK’s Mischief Theatre. Their last production to hit Melbourne was the Olivier Award-Winning production of The Play That Goes Wrong. Having missed it, I was excited to check out this new show. Peter Pan Goes Wrong was also nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.
The show follows members of The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society in an attempt to put on a play of Peter Pan. As patrons slowly make their way into the theatre, we are introduced to the stage managers applying the last minute touches to the set. I quickly noticed Matt Whitty, recently from the production ‘‘Puffs’, as one of the stage managers battling over the location of a toy train on stage. He would move it, then another would walk out and move it, and a third character would appear to move the toy train again. It was hilarious watching each stage manager character return to the stage to find that the train had moved again, their reactions humouring the audience as each stage manager became increasingly confused and frustrated. I was in hysterics and the show hadn’t even officially started yet. I also loved how interactive the production was pre-show with speaking to the audience, looking for lost items and other antics.
With the show about to begin we are introduced to Production Director, Chris Bean, played by Connor Crawford, and Co-Assistant Director Robert Grove, played by Luke Joslin, as they welcome us to the show. After their last production went horribly wrong, the two characters convince the audience that Peter Pan will go off without a hitch. All the kinks and misgivings from the previous play had apparently all been worked out with the show going as far as to provide character Dennis Tyde, played by George Kemp, with brand new headset technology to aid with his lines. As the show slowly progresses from a casual walk into a run, we quickly discover that this show is not really about Peter Pan but more about the failures of the production company that is attempting to put on the show. Without going into more detail, the show’s problems continue to snowball. Not only with the set falling apart, but the relationships between cast members also start to fall apart.
The stand out performance for me was from Tammy Weller who I had also recently seen in ‘Puffs’. Not only did she perform the ridiculously fast costume changes between Mary Darling and Lisa, but she also portrayed Tinker Bell and Tiger Lily, and switched between each of the characters effortlessly. It was also a real treat to see Jay Laga’aia on stage for the first time. I have been a fan of his work for a very long time and found him very funny and charismatic in his role as the narrator.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is right up there as one of the funniest shows I have ever witnessed. All the cast members are brilliant, the set design and its use in part of the story is genius, and I will never forget how much my face hurt from smiling and laughing so much. I was in hysterics from the moment I sat down, to long after the show was over. Although carefully planned, the mishaps don’t feel fake with every problem in the show seeming genuinely disastrous, spontaneous, but most of all, hilarious.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is currently playing at The Playhouse at Arts Centre Melbourne until the end of January 2019. Following the Melbourne leg, the production will hit Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney and Perth. For more details please visit peterpangoeswrong.com.au as it is totally worth the visual treat for both adults and children who love a good show and a laugh. I, for one, loved it.