Phil Willmott

Review: PETER PAN GOES WRONG at the Apollo Theatre

Peter Pan Goes Wrong I first saw this hilarious comedy in a try out fringe production at the Pleasance Theatre some years ago.

A lot has happened since then for this brilliant team of comics, writers and improvisers and their visionary producer, Kenny Wax. Most notably the unexpected success of their first show, THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, on tour and in the West End at the Duchess Theatre.

It’s here that they’ve shocked everyone in commercial theatre by proving that if you’re funny enough, you don’t need big stars in order to attract an awful lot of people.

Broadway is rumoured to be on the cards for that show and so boosted by such phenomenal success, the same writers and cast are confidently sailing into the West End with their second piece, PETER PAN GOES WRONG and, like its predecessor, it’s a guaranteed, laugh-out-loud treat.

The premise is that that a student amateur dramatic society, riddled with petty rivalries, pretension and unrequited passion, is putting on a disaster ridden production of PP and you’re watching it.

It’s a brilliant combination of slap stick – faulty props, set and flying sequences - and situation comedy as the various personalities clash and fight for attention and to save the show as it disintegrates into anarchy.

If you’re looking for a feel-good evening of solid gold comedy this is the show for you. Don’t miss it! They deserve to sell out.

The comic timing is spot on particularly from rival directors played by Henry Sheilds and Henry Lewis and from David Hearn as Max who plays John Darling whilst harbouring a secret crush on Charlie Russell’s hilariously “street” Wendy.

The amazing thing is despite all the craziness the Peter Pan story itself still emerges as something heart warming and magical. So against the odds and amidst the mayhem there are one or two poignant moments which actually tug at the emotions. When Max finally gets to step up and play Peter it’s clear he’s already learnt the part off by heart and he launches into a beautifully delivered, very lovely speech about starlight. Later, in a brilliant twist on the convention that traditionally has the audience applauding to save the fairy Tinkerbelle, we end up clapping and chanting to remedy a surprisingly “shocking” mishap. But you’ll need to see it to understand what I mean.

Simon Scullion’s revolving and ingenious death trap of a set is actually rather lovely and wouldn’t disgrace a “straight” West End production of Peter Pan. Perhaps in time they can perform the real play for kids at matinees and the pastiche of it, for adults, in the evening.

If you’re looking for a feel-good evening of solid gold comedy this is the show for you. Don’t miss it! They deserve to sell out.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong tickets