Choreographed chaos as Peter Pan Goes Wrong hits the stage

Peter Pan Goes Wrong - Pamela Raith Photography (Photo: Pamela Raith)
Peter Pan Goes Wrong - Pamela Raith Photography (Photo: Pamela Raith)

Following their multi-award-winning sell-out success with The Play That Goes Wrong and the BBC TV series The Goes Wrong Show, Mischief return with their riotous spin on a timeless classic, Peter Pan. Once again, the members of the Cornley Drama Society are back on stage, battling technical hitches, flying mishaps and cast disputes as they attempt to present J M Barrie’s much-loved tale. But will they ever make it to Neverland?

Leading the cast will be Jake Burgum (as Trevor), Jack Michael Stacey (as Chris), Matthew Howell (as Robert), Jean-Luke Worrell (as Francis), Ciara Morris (as Sandra), Theo Toksvig-Stewart (as Max), Gareth Tempest (as Jonathan) and Rosemarie Akwafo (as Lucy). And as Jack says, it’s a virtually a dance in effect – insofar as the intricacy of the steps needs to be absolutely right if the desired effects are to be achieved.

“It's basically a dance from beginning to end. You have got to be incredibly specific. It's like that old joke that ‘comedy is… timing.’ If you are in the wrong position and the audience can't see what is happening behind you, then it really matters. Or if something doesn't happen that is supposed to happen, it makes a difference. It really is like a piece of music. If the notes are not in the right order then it is not the same thing at all. The writing and the directing are so specific that everything mounts. We do a pre-show in the auditorium just to warm everyone up and then when the show starts we don't let the audience draw breath until the end of Act One and then they go off and have a drink and then they don't get to draw breath until the end of the show. Everything has to be so choreographed.”

But at the same time there's certainly latitude for the cast to respond to what actually happens on the night. There are built-in contingency plans just in case certain things don't happen as they should, but it's also important to take on board what the audience might shout out – and that's all a huge part of the fun of it all.

“The idea is that the Cornley Drama Society have done The Play That Goes Wrong which was a murder mystery and which was a massive failure for them but somehow they have managed to survive and off the back of that they are now doing this. The set-up is that one of the uncles of one of the cast members has donated £80,000 to the society and they now decide that they're going to put on Peter Pan which is obviously a very beloved story but even though traditionally in the UK Peter Pan is known as a panto, the head of the drama society, who I play, is insistent that it's not going to be that. And because it's Peter Pan rather than the murder mystery it's a very different show to The Play That Goes Wrong. By the very nature of it, this is a much more fast-paced show.