Lyric Theatre, Sydney – until 3 March 2019
Guest reviewer: Amy Mitchell
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a theatrical disaster panto crammed with slapstick calamities and magic misadventures. The production is framed around the JM Barrie classic and follows the formula that delighted past audiences with The Play That Goes Wrong, from the same creators Mischief Worldwide Theatre Company.
We’re introduced to a fictional and farcical troupe of amateur dramatists come outright nincompoops and their hapless attempt at putting on a play of Peter Pan. The scene is set on a revolving stage encompassing the Darlings’ nursery, Neverland, the lagoon and a pirate ship.
From the opening scene pandemonium explodes with absurd tomfoolery and monstrous malfunctions – lines are fluffed up, there are trips and falls galore, bunk-beds collapse, infidelities are exposed, stage-hands and props go rogue, Captain Hook has a minor emotional breakdown, Peter is concussed and Tinker Bell almost snuffs it.
A wildly energetic ensemble cast with brilliant comic timing have the audience chortling at the relentless abundance of frantic visual comedy, corny gags and quick change disasters. Where it’s light on musical numbers (although one will have you toe tapping home) it’s brimming with exuberant physical wit.
The cast are multi-task magicians, with stand-out performances from Tammy Weller jumping hysterically between housekeeper Liza, Mary Darling, Tiger-Lily and Tinker Bell and Jordan Prosser flitting between four-year-old Michael Darling (complete with baby pink pyjamas), desperate but loveable Max and unwitting underdog hero, the crocodile. Francine Cain triumphs with an over-acted shimmy-athon as Sandra and Wendy Darling and Connor Crawford’s patriarchal parodies as the director, Daddy Darling and Captain Hook are wonderful.
With only a smattering of surprises, the audience could anticipate the choreographed mayhem before it happened, and while the repetition stifled a few extra laughs, you’d be hard pressed not to maintain a delighted grin throughout at the playful and precise absurdity of it all.