Electrocuted fairies, dying actors, broken or breaking stages, faulty props and characters getting stuck in various unpleasant situations—these are just a few things you will get to witness if you’re lucky enough to see Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
Mischief Theatre brings this play from London’s West End to our little city of Perth, and once again, makes the members of The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society “battle against technical hitches, flying mishaps and cast disputes with hilarious and disastrous results”.
Nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, Peter Pan Goes Wrong turns the J.M. Barrie classic Peter Pan into an incredible display of humanity, comedy and chaos.
The show—and thus the laughter—began before even hitting the official start time. The cast dispersed between a buzzing audience, which quickly filled up the lower level of his Majesty’s theatre. Moving props, dragging blueprints, and fixing a broken light-bulb with a set of car jumper cables—the cast had the audience howling with laughter before the doors had even closed.
The twelve cast members featured: a movie and musical theatre star Jay Laga’aia (Nims Island, Home and Away, Star Wars) as a narrator and pirate; a WAAPA Graduate and Helpmann Award-nominated music theatre star, Francine Cain as Wendy Darling; and Connor Crawford taking on the roles of Director, Darling Patriarch and Captain Hook.
The play was a brilliant cross of slapstick, anti-humour and character comedy with risqué elements that threw the audience into uninterrupted fits of laughter.
There are at least two ‘degrees’ of character to each actor. For example, Francine Cain plays Sandra, the beautiful actress—which half of the other characters are in love with—who plays Wendy. A little confusing, I know, but it works well in practice. The play follows the ‘actors’ as they attempt to put on a show, battling the many malfunctions, injuries, and revelations of what the other’s think about them.
Chaos ensues within minutes. Mr Darling gets stabbed in the leg with a pair of scissors while Nanna, a very obvious non-animal dog is stuck in the flap on the door and needs the ‘stagehands’ to cut her out with—very loud—electric saws.
Image by Alastair Muir.
This is followed by Mrs Darling singing a lullaby about sleeping safe and almost getting squashed to death by a falling light. On top of this, the three-tiered bunk-bed in which the kids are sleeping breaks crushing both Michael and John, and Peter Pan flies in through the window, taking the frame with him accidentally, instead of gracefully landing on the window seat.
This all happens within the first fifteen minutes.
While the play follows the well-known narrative of Peter Pan—with the children flying to the Neverland, meeting questionable mythical creatures, and having various close encounters with Captain Hook (who in many occasions has trouble living the life of an amputee)—it also explores the relationships and conflicts that we face in our everyday lives: unrequited love, cheating partners, under-appreciated efforts, frustration at not doing your job well, crumbling marriages, you name it!
Peter Pan Goes Wrong somehow manages to make every member of the audience laugh at the problems we can’t seem to face in our own lives; it presents us with our own realities in such a way that we realise maybe there is hope after all.
Words could never quite do justice in describing the hilarity that is Peter Pan Goes Wrong. What I will say is that they had us singing along with Jay Laga’aia, talking to Captain Hook, and repeating as loud as we could: “with faith and trust and fairy dust, and the world of make-believe.”
I left the theatre with an aching stomach and a bounce in my step—I highly recommend this play for anyone seeking the same experience!
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is showing at His Majesty’s Theatre till 17 March. Get your tickets here!