‘It’s Peter Pan made funny because it goes wrong’ – overheard explanation of the storyline by one young audience member to their younger sibling, which is as concise an exposition of ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ as this reviewer is able to come up with.
It’s also clear from the moment assertive ‘co-director’ Robert Grove (Cornelius Booth) appears front of curtain that we’re in the kind of territory no ‘am dram’ thespian ought to venture without proper precautions.
Welcome to Cornley Youth Theatre’s production of Peter Pan, during which Mischief Theatre joyously take apart (sometimes literally) nearly every possible comic cliché concerning amateur theatre.
The skill with which this is done is at times frequently genuinely breath-taking, as mis-timed entrances coincide with collapsing scenery, special effects turn out to be potentially lethal, and sound cues reveal embarrassing details of the on-stage company’s personal lives.
Writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields may have done little violence to ‘Peter Pan’ itself in this flight of imaginative creation, but their script calls for acting of great physicality and considerable versatility, and we are fortunate that this production boats a cast that responds fully to the demands of the play.
As has already been suggested, these are by no means small, and despite any effects of a damp and dreich Edinburgh day, the near-capacity audience was with them all the way in the performance seen, vocally participating at every opportunity offered by an ‘oh no it isn’t’ from the stage.
Wear its heart on its sleeve as much as this production does, it’s nevertheless clear and sharp-eyed when it comes to the follies and foibles of both amateur theatricals and human weaknesses, both of which are very much in evidence.
There are occasions when what a set designer friend describes as ‘the blethers’ require close notation, but there are also those when parking the pen and pad and entering fully into the dedicated enjoyment of the actors is the only option, and ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ is undoubtedly one of these.
To praise ensemble playing has become the comfort cliché of choice among reviewers, and this one is no exception, but in the case of this company it shines (necessitously) in every scene. It’s only with such collegiate understanding and trust that we are rewarded by witnessing so much wonderful mischief afoot.
Til 9th May