Two years ago, Mischief Theatre Company’s award-winning The Play That Goes Wrong played a limited season at Sydney’s Roslyn Packer Theatre. That production saw the fictional Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society perform a 1920s murder mystery, ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor’ and, as suggested by the title, everything that could conceivably go wrong during the performance did go wrong – lines were missed, set pieces fell, and performers had to be replaced mid-show because of injury.

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields (the same team that penned The Play That Goes Wrong), the Olivier Award-nominated Peter Pan Goes Wrong is another play-within-a-play in which the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society presents it next completely disastrous production. Seven of the actors who appeared in The Play That Goes Wrong (Darcy Brown, Francine Cain, Adam Dunn, Luke Joslin, George Kemp, Jordan Prosser and Tammy Weller) have returned to the stage for this next instalment. They’re joined by Connor Crawford and Teagan Wouters, and Jay Laga’aia features as the affable narrator.

Connor Crawford - Captain Cook

Connor Crawford in Peter Pan Goes Wrong

In their efforts to present their Christmas production of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of the flying boy who never grows up, everything again goes awry. Sets fall apart, props prove not to be fit for purpose and actors are forced to carry on with proceedings while stagehands work behind them, in full view of the audience, to rectify these set and prop issues. Meanwhile, one of the actors, Dennis (Kemp), can’t remember his lines so needs everything fed to him through a headset – and, of course, that means he soon finds himself repeating more than what the script requires. There’s a wardrobe malfunction for an actor tasked with multiple roles, and when pre-recorded audio excerpts are incorporated into the performance, they reveal some of the actors’ true feelings for one another. There’s even one hilariously lame song and dance number – ‘The World of Make Believe’. It all plays out on Simon Scullion’s wonderfully intricate set, complete with revolve. Costumes by Roberto Surace are similarly well designed for the occasion.

Like the show that came before it, it’s pretty silly and not one for theatregoers craving a weighty work to sink their teeth into, but it’s slickly-presented chaos well-performed by a strong cast. Connor Crawford shows impressive comedic talent as both the show’s director and the actor playing Captain Hook. Francine Cain (an actor we should see more of on our stages) showcases her own well-honed skills as Sandra, Cornley’s lead actress who ensures every one of her lines is accompanied by an over-the-top gesture or dance move. Joslin amuses in a number of guises, from assistant director to unintelligible cast member to Nana, the nursemaid dog; Prosser is endearing as Max, whose acting talent comes in for a rather public lambasting; and Weller shows her prowess as a physical comedian.

Jordan Prosser, George Kemp, Francine Cain, Tammy Weller

Jordan Prosser, George Kemp, Francine Cain and Tammy Weller in Peter Pan Goes Wrong

There’s lots of audience participation (beginning even before the show starts) and, at the performance this reviewer attended, the audience was highly receptive to all calls to participate. This kind of theatre isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but if you enjoy farce, slapstick and a bit of pantomime, Peter Pan Goes Wrong is the ticket for you.



Venue: Sydney Lyric
Dates: Playing now until 3 March 2019
Times: Tue 7pm, Wed – Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 1pm & 5pm


Venue: His Majesty’s Theatre
Dates: 7 – 17 March 2019
Times: Tue 7pm, Wed – Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 1pm & 5pm