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A CurtainUp London London Review
Peter Pan Goes Wrong

"This is not a pantomime!" — Captain Hook
Peter Pan Goes Wrong
Nancy Wallinger as Tinkerbell (Photo: Alastair Muir)
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a delight. An opportunity to laugh and laugh with the many scenic disasters which beset the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society's production of the perennial Peter Pan. But this is Peter Pan as you have never seen it before. We start in the Darling's attic bedroom with Henry Lewis's Nana the dog getting stuck in her dog flap and having to be cut out by several stage hands, one of whom is armed with a terrifying chain saw. Mrs Darling (Nancy Wallinger) doubles as the maid with some incredibly fast costume changes which will get more slap dash as the evening progresses, a vase narrowly missing her as it falls from aloft. The comic timing here is superb.

Tom Edden is Francis, the sardonic Narrator whose exits are plagued by an ill behaving chair which often refuses to budge at the cue or moves erratically. The actor playing John (Jonathan Sayer) has such a problem remembering his lines that they are fed to him via headphones which often pick up commercial radio or the traffic cops instead, all of which he faithfully speaks on stage. There are other sound glitches where things said off stage are relayed so that Max (Dave Hearn) instantly gets our sympathy because his acting skills are so cruelly discussed. Playing the crocodile which torments Captain Hook (Henry Shields) Max has adapted a trolley to slide on stage and which he picks up and carries off to many expressions of pity from the audience. The romantic dalliances of the cast are complicating.

Peter Pan's left behind shadow is a terrible mismatch and Peter spends much of his flying time hanging upside down as the stage hands tries to learn the flying ropes. I don't want to spoil the surprise of many of the laughs which come thick and fast so that your face almost hurts from laughing so much, but the collapsing bunk beds trapping the Darling children inside are brilliant and I so loved the joke when the Darling children attempt to follow Peter by flying to Neverland.

Tinkerbell's costume is a skirt connected to the mains and the wonderful Nancy Wallinger is often caught short with her electric lead. There are moments when all the lights fuse and Simon Scullion's set has shock and surprise built into it. The amateur thesps have a Tootles beset with stage fright (Ellie Morris).

I can't think of a better treat for all the family than tickets to this charming and cheerful Christmas show. Still running at the Duchess from the same company, Mystery Theatre, is the Olivier Award Winning comedy, the murder mystery mishap that is The Play That Goes Wrong and at the Criterion from 31st March is a new piece to look forward to, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery.

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Peter Pan Goes Wrong
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields
Directed by Adam Meggido

With: Henry Shields, Henry Lewis, Dave Hearn, Charlie Russell, Jonathan Sayer, Chris Leask, Tom Edden, Nancy Wallinger, Greg Tannahill, Ellie Morris
Set Designer: Simon Scullion
Costume Designer: Roberto Surace
Choreography: Nancy Wallinger and Dave Hearn
Lighting: Matt Haskins
Sound: Ella Wahlstrom
Co-composers: Richard Baker and Rob Falconer
Running time: Two hours and 5 minutes with an interval
Box Office 020 7492 0810_
Booking to 31st January 2016
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 9th December 2015 performance at the ApolloTheatre, Shaftesbury avenue, London W1D 7ES (Tube: Piccadilly Circus)
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