CYBERSPACE — Think of the happiest things, it’s the same as having wings! Though the actors of the fictional Cornley Drama Society who depend on the rigging are in for a crash landing, a tongue-lashing from Captain Hook tongue lashing, and some spicy intercast lip smashing. Broadway HD’s visually stunning stream of Mischief Theatre’s Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a side splitting laugh fest that pokes fun at the intricate parts of theatre making, the complexity of actor relationships and builds on many successful bits from their hit Tony Award winning comedy The Play That Goes Wrong.

Production streaming now on BroadwayHD.

The production is a play within a play, and so many of the actors have both a character actor name as well as parts they play in the show (the latter including Captain Hook, Smee, Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael and Tinkerbell). Following the production is easy given the simple and crafty exposition of the story. The production begins like a backstage tour of a theatre company narrated by David Suchet with a vein of sketch comedy that is reminiscent of The Office. When Suchet, who is best known for playing the role of Agatha Christie’s Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, sits down in a velvety red wingback chair to begin his pseudo narration of Peter Pan, he reads with eye-twinkling charm and tosses a handful of glitter from his pocket as the show begins. For the fictional actors in the production of Peter Pan, the show is all downhill from there. But what a ride it is for the audience. 

The show opens with the usual charm of Peter Pan as Mr. Darling, acted by the fictional Chris (played by Henry Shields) shepherds the children to bed. Darling then urges the family’s lumbering dog Nana (acted by the fictional Robert and played in real life by the barrel chested actor Henry Lewis in a dog costume) to leave the nursery. Then the hijinks begin in earnest. Lewis saunters off on all fours but finds himself stuck in the door to the nursery. This bit is played out in a myriad of ways as actors must squeeze around Lewis, or else push him around as he is stuck. While remaining in the dog costume, Lewis breaks surrounding set pieces, has to work out visual gags with props and eventually crew members must cut him out of the door so the show can go on as the situation devolves into madness.

Left to right: Henry Lewis as Robert as Nana. Robert and Henry Shields as Christ. Copyright BBC. Photo by Idil Sukan.

The beauty of Peter Pan Goes Wrong is how so very many things break down in increasingly worse and creative ways. Lewis, Shields and Jonathan Sayer (who all act in the show they have written) have constructed a masterful farce in which the on-stage issues multiply with hilarity. For example, there is a scene near the end where the actors are stuck on an out of control rotating stage that features a series of fights, scandalous snoggings, and actors breaking props sets and character. At a certain point, this also includes a ship breaking into a neighboring studio and interrupting a local news broadcast. It is a scene that led me to be deeply curious about what such a thing looks like on stage because it looked as if there were things that could only happen in a film during the production. 

Those familiar with the play’s predecessor, The Play That Goes Wrong will find that there are a handful of farcical tropes that have translated from one play to the next. At one point an actor is knocked out and must be replaced by an unsure stage hand who is then knocked out as well. Set pieces breaking and rigging going wrong leads to high-stakes scenes where the audience is filled with conflicting emotions. On the one hand, the seemingly dangerous situation of the actor causes concern and alarm for the audience. On the other hand, the clever staging and maneuvering on what appear to be flimsy and splintering set pieces is remarkably tight footwork and stagecraft which leads to hilarity and awe at the theatrical accomplishment on stage. 

Some of the cast of Peter Pan Goes Wrong. Copyright BBC. Photo by Idil Sukan.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong also has several new wrinkles that I enjoyed a great deal. The crocodile is played by a character called Max (portrayed by Dave Hearn). Max is mentioned several times as only being involved because he is related to a wealthy benefactor of the show, and is roundly criticized as being a poor performer. At one point, the producers of the show seem to be watching from the tech booth and berate him in the middle of a scene which leads him to stand, frown, and piteously trudge off stage in his ridiculous crocodile costume. His arc continues as he finds himself playing Pan opposite the girl of his dreams only to be rejected by her on stage. This is one of several examples of the play openly encouraging audience participation through chanting, applauding or responding to actors saying things that made me wish I could fly into the house where the show was filmed. This draws on the common Peter Pan trope of the audience clapping and chanting “I believe in fairies,” to save Tinkerbell. But in this production, the audience cheers on poor Max and boos Captain Hook, who often breaks character and hilariously demands the audience shut up and allow him to act. Peter Pan Goes Wrong is hilarious and engaging from start to finish.


My sense is that critics of streaming theatrical productions likely are not unlike sports fans. Yes, I watch more basketball on TV than I go to games in person. However, any sports fan will acknowledge that there is nothing like being at the game. Likewise, attending a live play is a better experience than watching a streaming production of the same show. Streaming Peter Pan Goes Wrong was hilarious, but it in no way curbed my desire to see this or any other play in person. Instead, it reminded me in visceral and engaging ways of why theatre in person is so impressive and impactful. I would not have chosen to stream Peter Pan Goes Wrong, but now that I have, I will leap at seeing the next live production of the show that I can. 

The London production of Peter Pan Goes Wrong is available now to stream on BroadwayHD at Currently, UTBA readers can obtain a one-year subscription plan for $99.99 at Regular prices for subscription plans are $11.95/month or $129.99/year.