JOYCE MCMILLAN on PETER PAN GOES WRONG at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow , for The Scotsman 4.5.15.
3 stars ***
WHENEVER I MENTION my job as a theatre critic, someone is bound to respond with by sighing, “I know I should get to the theatre more often,” as if it were some arduous but elevating chore, like visiting an aged aunt. And I can only suppose that it’s because theatre enjoys this wearily prestigious status in British life that there is such an endless appetite for shows like Mischief Theatre’s Peter Pan Goes Wrong, in which the whole art-form is seen falling flat on its face, and audiences are invited to laugh themselves silly – not for ten minutes but for two long hours – over all that can go wrong when a local amateur dramatic company, the Cornley Youth Theatre, attempts to stage Peter Pan.
Designed mainly for fans of slapstick – and set to arrive in Edinburgh tomorrow – this touring follow-up to the company’s award-winning Play That Goes Wrong often seems like a thin idea stretched beyond its limit, as flying actors are slammed ruthlessly around the stage, and the set develops a chaotic life of its own; it’s all been done before, and far more wittily, in Michael Frayn’s backstage classic Noises Off. The programme is a good read, though, full of interviews with fictional Cornley actors, and entertaining small ads; the sheer energy of the ten-strong company demands a salute. And towards the end, as the revolving set threatens to reach warp speed, there are one or two moments of genuine hilarity; before this self-absorbed piece of theatrical foolery disappears again into the night, leaving not a trace behind.