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REVIEW: Peter Pan Goes Wrong at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Until Saturday 17 February 2024

Mischief's hilarious sequel to The Play That Goes Wrong flies into Tyneside this week. This high flying adventure had the audience laughing throughout as almost anything that can go wrong did.

Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is producing theatre again - this time President Chris Bean has been given a bigger budget. With that cash comes the need to put the generous families offspring in the production regardless of his acting talents.

Of course the antics of the show begin as the audience take their seats. Cast and crew are hunting down missing equipment and trying to fix the electrics. Even form this early point it is obvious that the crew are having to work hard to make the magic happen. I imagine that whoever is looking after lights and sound has their work cut out. I should add it was nice to see the crew take a bow at the end - a nice touch given their massive role out of sight.

Props that can fail will do in this show. This includes the fly and Peter Pan is quickly in peril. Like all good comedy, I am sure that it is all worked out within an inch of its life - but you do wonder if anyone gets injured as windows and doors misbehave almost as much as the cast do.

This is not a pantomime, as we are reminded, but that doesn't stop the audience taking an active part from their seats. I suspect the audience were, in part, a reason why the show somewhat overran its published 2h 10 minutes. The three ringed circus showing how much fun theatre can be.

The story loosely follows the J. M. Barrie script. To add to the madness, for example, you have north east's own Jamie Birkett playing both Mrs Darling and Lisa the maid in the opening scenes. Initially the costume changes are swift but soon she starts getting "caught out" as she walks off set in one costume and is expected to suddenly appear in the other. The funny costume issues occur for many of the cast and this adds to the fun.

Here's the thing though. We see the actors playing students trying to put on a show. Even the programme is part Cornley Poly / part Peter Pan Goes Wrong. In a daft way - you find yourself following as much of the off stage drama as the on stage antics.

This is a really funny show that cheers you up. It is at least the third time that I have seen it and I still find it funny. You have a very hard working cast such as the clashing egos of the co-directors (Jack Michael Stacey and Matthew Howell). These two actors are frequently at the centre of the biggest clangers, as is Gareth Tempest as Peter Pan. Ultimately it is a massive ensemble effort with really tight timing and direction to ensure everyone stays safe.

Naturally there will be comparisons with the other Mischief shows like the Play That Goes Wrong. Which is funnier? I think that depends upon you. Both are full of laughter and full of moments in which you think "wow, did that just happen?"

I'm really glad I had the chance to see it again 9 years since the last time - it has lost none of its charm.

Review: Stephen Oliver

Photo: Pamela Raith


Peter Pan Goes Wrong plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Monday 12 – Saturday 17 February 2024. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.

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