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Review: Peter Pan Goes Wrong at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, January 2015

By Julia Collins

Whatever production of Peter Pan you’ve seen before, I can guarantee it won’t be anything like this one.

We join the disaster-prone Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they attempt to stage their version of the JM Barrie classic tale.

James Marlowe, Leonie Hill and Cornelius Booth in Peter Pan Goes Wrong

The cast bravely does battle with props, scenery and costume, as they blunder from one scene to the next with scarcely time to draw breath between malfunctions and mistakes.

There’s rarely an entrance or exit without some sort of mishap and the physical exertion required for so many of the performances makes you wonder if the cast will all make it to the end of the run in one piece.

And as outside elements interfere with proceedings on stage the performers all reveal rather more than they would like, in more ways than one.

When everyone is working so hard it’s tough to pick a standout performance but Cornelius Booth as enthusiastic co-director Robert Grove, who battles on through despite his tale of woe from a previous production, provides a steady stream of laughs.

Honourable mentions must also go to Naomi Sheldon as Annie Twilloil, and not just for the sheer number of costume changes she manages to get through, along with Harry Kershaw as glitter-obsessed Francis Beaumont.

And Matt Cavendish, as aspiring actor Max Bennett, manages to win the audience over very sweetly with his engaging mix of enthusiasm and vulnerability.

James Marlowe, Naomi Sheldon, Cornelius Booth and Harry Kershaw as the pirates in Peter Pan Goes Wrong

The story of Peter Pan somehow manages to retain all the traditional elements but at times it’s as if they’ve been thrown into a blender.

And just when you think there can’t be another gag wrung out of the situation, it just keeps on giving and no comic stone is left unturned.

Clever set design allows for a catalogue of destruction and confusion to build up, making sure that several stagehands are as much a part of the action as the main performers and it would be hard to tell with this production if something had genuinely gone wrong.

Mischief Theatre certainly live up to their name as they create a solid two hours of mayhem and entertainment and as things start spinning more and more out of control, it’s hard to tell who will be left standing.

But by the end, it’s several audience members, as they leap to their feet to give the hard-working cast an ovation.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury until Saturday, January 17. Tickets cost from £16.50. Visit www.marlowetheatre.com

It visits Bromley's Churchill Theatre from Monday, February 9 to Saturday, February 14 and Dartford's Orchard Theatre from Monday, June 1 until Saturday, June 6. Visit the tour website at www.mischieftheatre.co.uk

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