The Cornley Youth Theatre made a welcome return to the Wolverhampton Grand last night with their first performance of (not a panto, definitely not a panto) Peter Pan. As ever, with Cornley, it was not without it’s problems, and many things did go wrong on the night, but you couldn’t fault the endeavour of the cast, not least the three Peter Pan’s (I lost count at that point), and the perseverance of Dennis Tyde as John Darling, who despite, not being able to remember a single line that actually belonged to him, was able to play two keys parts. Special mentions must also go to Lucy Grove as Tootles and Annie Twilloil as Tinkerbell, who gamely worked through rather serious injuries to just about survive to the end, and Robert Grove, who despite spending most of the first act stuck in a door, avoiding crushing anyone this time around. Director Chris Bean also performed well as Captain Hook, although he was troubled by the audience insistence that, yes, this was most definitely a pantomime!
This could’ve been my review of Mischief Theatre’s Peter Pan Goes Wrong, which I almost split my sides laughing at, at the Wolverhampton Grand last night. In the grand tradition of both farce and slapstick, this is chaos and mayhem, and absolutely hilarity on a major scale, and I, for one, absolutely loved it. It is a brilliant mixture of silliness and physical comedy, making always affectionate fun at the productions of amateur dramatic groups, but also teamed with a razor sharp script, that makes sure that every sort of cliched ‘theatre type’ character is represented. This includes the director who is also a real thespian who certainly would not produce a pantomime, an untalented actor desperate to play the main part, an actress so shy she can barely say her lines, and Dennis, stupid, lovable Dennis, who needs an autocue for everything, but instead wears a headset that pick up everything from local radio to Ubers, all of which Dennis happily voices to the watching audience, with completely hilarious results.
The whole cast is sublime, from Clark Devlin as the already mentioned Dennis, to the brilliant Ciara Morris, desperately trying to hold everything together as Sandra playing Wendy. Jean Luke Worrell, as the narrator Frances, is an actor I loved for his show stopping performance in Cluedo, and here, once again, he shines, particularly when he tries to remove the attention from an unconscious Tinkerbell with his hilarious rendition of Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff.
There are so many high points of the show, the laughs just keep coming right up to the very last minute. This is a show that will have you laughing all the way home.
An absolute joy, an absolute must see.
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
Until Saturday 4th November
Click here for ticket information