Morris, Jonathan Sayer, Charlie Russell,Henry Shields, Henry Lewis and Matthew Cavendish
(Photo: Jeremy Daniel)
Peter Pan Goes Wrong
By Fern Siegel
“Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”
The quote is courtesy of character actor Edmund Gwenn on his deathbed. But
Peter Pan Goes Wrong, now on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, makes
comedy look effortless.
It’s funny, thanks to
split-second timing and the unintentional destruction of a much-loved classic,
J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The mayhem is due to The Mischief Company,
familiar to anyone who has seen The Play Goes Wrong, now off-Broadway at
New World Stages.
The fun begins even before the
play starts, as the actors break the fourth wall and interact with the
The premise: The Cornley Youth
Theatre, “real near-professional actors” working with kids, is staging Peter
Pan. Simon Scullion’s set opens in Bloomsbury at the turn of the last
century. The Darling family, including their dog Nana (Robert Grove) and three
children, Wendy (Sandra Wilkinson), John (Dennis Tyde) and Michael (Max
Bennett), are saying goodnight to their parents.
Wendy mentions they have captured
a boy’s shadow, a notion dismissed by her loving but Edwardian father (Chris
Bean, who doubles as Captain Hook).
One night, Peter Pan (Greg
Tannahill), the boy who refuses to grow up, sneaks into the nursery, along with
Tinker Bell (Annie Twilloil), and invites the children to join him in
Neverland. Happy thoughts lift them into the air — in theory. But this is Peter
Pan Goes Wrong, which means every possible mishap will occur. The tech
woes, the back-stage antics, the
prop man forever wandering the stage, the over-the-top theatrical moments —
it’s all part of the elaborate snafus that make the show so entertaining.
The talented troupe, stars of the
Goes Wrong Show, now streaming in the U.S., are terrific, even when they
milk the laughs. And they do. Some bits could be
The ensemble of Peter Pan Goes
Wrong. (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)
shortened, but the overarching
sense of well-timed comic anarchy, aided by guest star Neil Patrick Harris as
The Narrator, is sheer delight.
by Mischief members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, Peter Pan
Goes Wrong is a physical comedy that tells Barrie’s beloved story in
brushstrokes. The unexpected accidents augment the adventure. We get all the
key plot points, along with crazy off-stage drama that heightens the fun.
is less about Peter Pan, the boy who won’t grow up and more about a theatrical
company that strains to get it mounted.
production is all of a piece — even the notes in the Playbill are funny.
A memoriam notes the death of Nadia, the crocodile imported from Kenya, who
burst free from her shipping crate, attacked her handlers and roamed the
Cornley University quad for four hours — before being killed by armed police.
“Our thoughts are with Nadia and all those injured on that dreadful day.”
Goes Wrong is directed by Adam Meggido, with costumes by Roberto Surace,
lighting by Matt Haskins, sound by Ella Wahlström, original music by Richard
Baker and Rob Falconer and wig/hair and make-up design by Tommy Kurzman.
well served by an agile cast that can portray hammy actors and sweet amateurs
with wacky style. Chris Bean and Henry Lewis take on multiple roles, as does
Nancy Zamit, who changes costumes in nannoseconds in a frenetic production that
makes Wrong right.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong - Ethel
Barrymore - 243 W. 47 St.
Running time: 2 hours and 5
Through July 9