Peter Pan Goes Wrong
Theatre Royal Brighton
Reviewed – 19th November 2019
“Simon Scullion has designed a set that seems to be always on the verge of killing someone, yet manages not to”
Glorious slapstick, wonderful cheeky humour, and a completely mad ‘plot.’ Peter Pan Goes Wrong has everything you could possibly want from a hilarious evening at the theatre.
Once again I had my nine year old sidekick, Manu, with me to help with the review. He loved it, I loved it, clearly the whole audience loved it. Manu’s favourite bits were the most outrageous physical ‘mishaps’; the collapsing sets, the appearance on stage of the crew, trying to fix things with a chain saw and various other alarming tools. But the fun began even before the show did. Cast and crew moved through the audience, getting in the way, running wires, looking for lost equipment and chatting with people in their personas as amateur actors on their way to perform. Patrick Warner the narrator, who also plays the Cecco, the Italian pirate, made Manu a balloon dog and Ciaran Kellgren who plays Peter Pan came along, playing the star. ‘You know who I am,’ he informed Manu, and luckily he did, because he’d been reading the programme. ‘You’re my biggest fan’ crowed Kellgren and signed his programme. One very happy boy, even before the play officially began.
Another thing that Manu loved was the number of characters some of the cast played. Phoebe Ellabani executed some lightning changes right at the beginning, transforming from Mary Darling to Lisa the maid in seconds. Several times. Later she became both Tiger Lily and Tinkerbell. Peter Pan’s flying was incredibly skilful. He made it look shambolic, dangerous and very, very funny. I don’t want to give too much away, but when the ‘stage hands’ came on to wire up the Darling children for their flight to Neverland they didn’t exactly manage to do it right. You’ll have to go and see it if you want to know what happens! It’s hard to convey the sense of breathtaking chaos. Nothing goes right, and everything is perfectly judged.
Romayne Andrews, as John Darling wearing headphones that ‘fed him his lines,’ had some fabulous moments when he unknowingly tuned into the shipping forecast, or the ‘backstage chat,’ repeating everything verbatim. Tom Babbage’s Michael Darling/crocodile combo won the hearts of us all, when his secret passion was revealed, his charm and vulnerability turning him from a geeky kid to the audience favourite. Connor Crawford’s outrageous and exasperated Captain Hook was determined that the play was NOT a pantomime, but nothing was going to stop the audience taking up the traditional ‘oh yes it is! Oh no it isn’t!’ call.
Everyone in the cast deserves mention, as they were all superb. Katy Daghorn was a Wendy holding it together with Sarah Bernhardt aplomb, Oliver Senton bumbled and growled as Starkey, woofed his way across the stage as Nana the dog and was determined that he was the Co-Director, not merely the assistant. Georgia Bradley was a sweet Tootles, injured and stuttering but finally triumphant and Ethan Moorhouse’s Trevor the Stage Manager was the epitome of incompetent frustration, trying to fix everything as it collapsed around him. Although the collapse was probably his fault in the first place, his team of Assistant Stage Managers, Eboni Dixon, Christian James, Soroosh Lavasani and Ava Pickett ‘helped’ with startling uselessness.
Just when it seems impossible for things to fall apart even more spectacularly the finale happens. And it seems to happen to the cast, rather than be created by them. The revolving stage revolves, everything seems on the edge of total implosion and somehow the characters arrive at something approaching the expected end.
Simon Scullion has designed a set that seems to be always on the verge of killing someone, yet manages not to. The lighting and sound design add beautifully to the explosions and mishaps. And it’s all shaped into a tight, crazy farce by Adam Meggido, who expects a lot from his cast and absolutely gets it.
The whole thing is a superb romp that anyone from nine to ninety will love, acted and directed with whip smart skill. Manu and I both say ‘go and see it!’ You won’t regret it, although your ribs may be sore from laughing.
Reviewed by Katre
Photography by Alastair Muir
Peter Pan Goes Wrong
Theatre Royal Brighton until 24th November then UK tour continues
Previously reviewed at this venue:
by James Phillips
A YEAR-LONG EPIC
• PART ONE: FROM THE SEA – A SHORT FILM PROLOGUE RELEASED ONLINE AND SCREENED ACROSS HULL IN AN AIRSTREAM CARAVAN
• PART TWO: ABUNDANCE – A LIVE PLAY TO BE PERFORMED 11-15 APRIL IN VICTORIA DOCK
• PART THREE: TO THE SEA – A PLAY TO BE BROADCAST ON BBC TELEVISION IN SUMMER 2017
• PART FOUR: NEW WORLD – A LIVE PLAY TO BE PERFORMED IN VICTORIA DOCK IN OCTOBER 2017
Flood is the story of what happened when the world was destroyed and how the people who lived tried to make it new again.
Flood is an extraordinary year-long epic commissioned for Hull 2017 that will be told online, live in Hull and on BBC television. It is created by the ground-breaking Leeds-based theatre company Slung Low, directed by artistic director Alan Lane and written by award-winning playwright James Phillips.
One day it starts to rain and no-one knows why. And it doesn’t stop. Far out on the North Sea a fisherman raises a girl in his net, miraculously alive from the deep sea. Is she one of the migrants now washing up on English shores? Or someone sent for some higher purpose?
Slung Low make adventures for audiences outside conventional theatre spaces, each with a powerful, moving story at its heart. Flood is their most ambitious and experimental project to date; mixing live performance, special effects, film and digital elements to tell a story across an entire year. The story will be told throughout four compelling parts. People seeing it will be able to experience each section as a stand-alone piece, or follow the entire series with each part enriching and linking to every other.
Alan Lane, artistic director of Slung Low, said:
“Working with Hull 2017 has allowed us to imagine a larger, more engaging adventure for audiences than ever before. Flood is theatrically and politically the most ambitious work we’ve ever made and the chance to tell that story in Hull throughout this most thrilling year for the city is something we’re really excited about.”
Martin Green, Director Hull 2017, said:
“It is wonderful to be working with Slung Low, one of the most brilliant companies in the UK. As we launch our next two seasons Flood embarks us on an extraordinary journey, which over the next months will stimulate, challenge and ask questions of the audience in an epic piece of storytelling.”
Part One: From the Sea
A short film in which the story begins, when a girl is raised from the depths of the sea. Funded by The Space, a commissioning and development organisation that supports artists and organisations to make the most of the opportunities that digital technology and online distribution afford, it can be seen at hull2017.co.uk/flood.
Flood: From the Sea will be played at a number of locations across Hull this week in an airstream caravan. Locations of the screenings include the carparks of the ASDA stores on Hessle Road, Mount Pleasant, Beverley Road and Kingswood; St. Stephens and Beverley Road Tesco stores; Northpoint Shopping Centre and Walton Street Market.
PART ONE – FROM THE SEA
Part Two: Abundance
A live play, in which an apocalypse approaches. Flood: Abundance will be performed in Hull at Victoria Dock from 11 to 15 April, with tickets on sale now. The cast will include Sarah Louise Davies as Kathryn, Nadia Emam as Gloriana, Marc Graham as Sam, Lisa Howard as Natasha, Naveed Khan as Jack, Rani Moorthy as Johanna and Oliver Senton as Captain.
PART TWO – ABUNDANCE
11 – 15 April 2017
8pm | £10-12.50
Part Three: To the Sea
A play broadcast on BBC television, in which the English become refugees. Flood: To the Sea is part of a series of programmes for BBC Arts called Performance Live, a two-year project produced in partnership with Arts Council England and Battersea Arts Centre that will challenge a spectrum of exciting artists, producers and arts organisations to produce their own television programmes.
Flood: To The Sea is a story set in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event which has seen England engulfed by water. Flood asks a simple question: what if the fleeing masses from our TV screens and Twitter feeds, in their boats and their orange lifejackets, had English accents? Because displacement is like disease: deep down we think it only happens to other people.
PART THREE – TO THE SEA
Dates of BBC television broadcast TBA
Part Four: New World
A live play, in which the world is begun again. To be performed at Victoria Dock in October 2017, with further information to be released.
Flood’s epic adventures come to audiences in Hull and beyond with support from The Space, Arts Council England, BBC Arts and Spirit of 2012.
PART FOUR – NEW WORLD
Further details to be announced, including ticket prices and performance dates.
Flood image by Perry Curties