Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Feb 28 2024 | By More

★★★★☆    Fizzing

Playhouse: Tue 27 Feb – Sat 2 Mar 2024
Review by Hugh Simpson

Peter Pan Goes Wrong, at the Playhouse until Saturday, can – much like its title character – apparently never get old. Instead, it remains fresh, funny and great fun on almost every level.

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, the original 2013 production was a sequel to The Play That Goes Wrong, and now returns to Edinburgh once again as part of an ever-growing franchise for Mischief Theatre.

Gareth Tempest , Ciara Morris, Clark Devlin and Matthew Howell. Pic: Pamela Raith.

The conceit, of course, is that Cornley Drama Society, a cheerfully inept theatre company whose ambition far outstrips their abilities, have received money from the uncle of one of their members. This they will use to mount a professional production of Peter Pan.

Cue unstable electrics, malfunctioning sets, recalcitrant props and ill-advised quick costume changes. This being the story of The Boy Who Never Grew Up, you can add in to the farcical proceedings an aerial dimension fraught with danger.

It is all performed by a narcissistic Peter, a Wendy who believes every word must be accompanied by the most expansive of gestures, an overly precious director, a blustering (and self-appointed) co-director, someone who is apparently only there because it was their uncle who provided the money, and an actor who cannot remember a single line.

ridiculously inventive

Although the script would never win awards for subtlety, the interactions between the company, with their egos, affections and insecurities, are portrayed with thought and some depth, which adds yet another level to proceedings.

It is all ridiculously inventive and done with speed and panache, helped greatly by Adam Meggido’s direction. It is easy to suspect that it will run out of steam, but it never does, thanks to an excellent instinct about when to let the jokes pile up and when to simply milk them for all they are worth.

Jack Michael Stacy. Pic: Pamela Raith.

Jack Michael Stacy, as Chris the director (who also plays Captain Hook and Mr Darling) shines as someone with absolutely no self-knowledge. His wounded interactions with cast and audience, who insist on treating his serious play as a pantomime, are first class.

Matthew Howell’s Robert (‘co-director’/Nana the Dog/ Peter’s shadow/an incomprehensible pirate) is horribly likeable despite his willingness to sacrifice everything (and everybody) to an ego whose size is inversely proportional to that of his talent.

Ciara Morris (Sandra, who plays a ludicrously arm-waving Wendy) and Gareth Tempest (Jonathan, a self-obsessed Peter Pan) are certainly recognisable grotesques – although perhaps from some of the more ill-thought-out professional touring productions rather than any actual grassroots theatre.

utter conviction

Theo Toksvig-Stewart plays Max, the benefactor’s nephew who is saddled with roles like ‘the crocodile that nobody likes’, with genuine sympathy. Clark Devlin, as the hapless Dennis, fed his lines through a (naturally unreliable) headset, also elicits real compassion.

Jamie Birkett’s Annie, she of the lightning-quick (usually) changes between Mrs Darling and the servant Liza, is also a wonderfully funny Tinker Bell. Jake Burgum plays Trevor, the stage manager who is on stage as much as the cast, with utter conviction.

Rosemarie Akwafo and Matthew Howell. Pic: Pamela Raith.

Rosemarie Akwafo is convincingly terrified as Robert’s niece Lucy, while Jean-Luke Worrell’s narrator is overplayed to exactly the right degree.

It is rare to see the understudies and the backstage technical crew take a bow at the end of a performance, but the understudies do appear on stage at several points, while the work of the crew is vital to the smooth running of affairs.

And it does all run brilliantly smoothly; there are a couple of slapstick moments where the timing may be not quite 100 per cent, but otherwise the most potentially hazardous moments are carried off with aplomb, and – even if you know what is coming – it is all quite breathtaking as well as very funny.

Simon Scullion’s set deserves special mention, with its revolving nature adding greatly to a bravura climactic sequence. The attention to detail also means that there is fun to be had even before curtain up.


There have been a couple of updates – Cornley Polytechnic has become a University, the amount of money donated for the production has gone up, and the character of Tiger Lily has been quietly replaced.

It is still recognisably the same production as before, however, to the extent that the cast, good as they are, are often imitating the original performers to a large extent. Which is hardly surprising, with the original being so successful.

Indeed, this probably remains the best of Mischief’s plays so far, with J.M. Barrie’s story providing a solid basis for the creativity and hilarity that are their trademarks.

Running time: Two hours and 15 minutes (including one interval).
Playhouse, 18-22 Greenside Place Cambridge St, EH1 3AA
Tuesday 27 February – Saturday 23 March 2024
Daily at 7.30 pm; Matinees Wed, Sat 2.30 pm
Tickets and details:  Book here.

Reviews of previous tours are here: Tag: Peter Pan Goes Wrong + Review

Gareth Tempest as Peter Pan – going wrong. Pic: Pamela Raith Photography.


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