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Theatre / Peter Pan Goes Wrong

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"Obviously, he wasn't thinking his happy thoughts."
The Narrator, after some snapped cords send an actor falling

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is the sequel to The Play That Goes Wrong, also written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields. They are all part of the Mischief Theatre Company.

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, riding high on their previous successful play performances, has been commissioned to perform Peter Pan for the holiday season, as it is a traditional Christmas vignette and not a Pantomime (Oh yes it is!). Once again, just about everything that can go wrong does, and some cast drama even gets pushed to the forefront.

In 2016, The BBC televised an hour-long live production of Peter Pan Goes Wrong, narrated by David Suchet, with parts of the script revised for TV. It was followed by A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong.


Peter Pan Goes Wrong contains examples of:

  • Accidental Child-Killer Backstory: Robert (or David Suchet, in the case of the 2016 BBC broadcast) tells the audience about how during a stage production of Oliver Twist, the person playing Mr. Bumble fell on one of the child actors, and the child died of his injuries due to Robert / David having parked his car in such a way that the ambulance couldn't get to him in time. He blames himself for the child's death...then he reveals that he was the one who was playing Mr. Bumble.
  • Acting for Two: In-universe:
    • Chris (the director), following tradition, plays both Mr. Darling and Captain Hook.
    • Robert plays Nana, Peter's shadow, and Starkey the pirate.
    • In the stage version, Francis plays the narrator and Cecco the pirate.
    • Max plays Michael and the Crocodile.
    • Annie plays Mrs. Darling, Liza the maid, Tinker Bellnote , and Tiger Lily. She also plays Cecco the pirate in the BBC version.
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    • Dennis plays John and Mr. Smee, though not always in the right costume.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The BBC's version fits either most or all of the key Peter Pan story beats in one hour.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In-universe, thanks to Max's improvising around various disasters, the crocodile becomes the real hero of the story.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Peter Pan himself. While Jonathan, who plays Peter for most of the show, is a bit of a Jerkass, the character has pretty much lost all the darker aspects he had in the original stage play, and is presented as friendly, pleasant and happy-go-lucky.
    • Tinker Bell as well, at least in the BBC version where her attempt to have Wendy killed is cut. The lead-up with the "kiss" Peter gives Wendy is still there, but nothing ever comes off it, and though Wendy later in the play makes a remark that Tinker Bell seems to be angry with her, this isn't really shown.
  • Adapted Out: The BBC version omits the character of Francis, who served as the narrator and played the pirate Cecco. The BBC version instead features David Suchet as the narrator, with Annie playing Cecco. Harry Kershaw, who originated the role of Francis on stage, instead plays the BBC stage manager who fights with Trevor.
  • Almost Kiss: After Max takes over the role of Peter, his attempt to kiss Wendy gets interrupted by Peter's first actor, Jonathan, coming back on stage.
  • Amusing Injuries: No one seems to make it through the play unscathed.
  • Audience Participation: Chris argues with the viewers over whether or not to treat Peter Pan as a pantomime.
    Chris: Where is Peter Pan?
    Audience: He's behind you!
    Chris, losing his temper: I know he's behind me! I directed the show, I told him to go there! You have to let me find him! Idiots.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Tinker Bell's luminous dress requires an extension cord to stay lit. Plus, Annie gets shocked pretty badly when some of Peter's medicine splashes on it.
  • Bait-and-Switch: After everything that's gone wrong so far, you might be expecting Annie as Mrs. Darling to have a terrible singing voice, or even be dubbed badly. Instead, she's a very talented singer...but she's quickly drowned out by the backstage team trying to get Robert free from the dog door he's presently trapped in.
  • Black Comedy: Robert's anecdote about the time he was responsible for a child actor's death both as the direct cause of the accident, and because he was parked in such a way that the ambulance could not reach him in time. In the TV broadcast, it's David Suchet who gives this anecdote.
  • Blatant Lies: In the TV version, when Chris requests an earpiece for Dennis so he can be fed his lines, Trevor replies that he has a headset.
    Chris: Will it be noticeable?
    Trevor: ...No.
  • Brick Joke: After Annie is electrocuted:
    Sandra: David! Call an ambulance! ...And move your car!
  • Cat Fight: Set up with Sandra and Annie when Annie, groggy after being electrocuted, enthusiastically makes out with Jonathan and Sandra catches them in the act... and then ultimately averted, because Sandra quickly realizes that Annie was too woozy to really understand what she was doing, assures her that it's not her fault, and then breaks up with Jonathan, who didn't have that excuse.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: When the time comes for Tinker Bell to drink the poisoned medicine, Annie experiences an unscripted electrocution. Even though it doesn't look like she'll wake up, Tootles' actress, Lucy, attempts to pick up the script where Peter's actor left off, overcoming her own stage fright. As everyone either onstage or in the audience joins her in clapping while chanting, "I believe in fairies!", the noise surprisingly helps Annie regain consciousness.
  • Clothing Damage / Comedic Underwear Exposure: The cords meant to lift up the Darling children tear off their pajamas instead, leaving Wendy (Sandra) and John (Dennis) in their underwear. Only the top half of Michael's (Max) PJs are torn off, though, so he deliberately pulls down his trousers to match the other 2.
    • Earlier, the door opens during Annie's quick change, revealing her half-dressed in just her bra.
    • And late in the first act of the stage version, Francis, finishing a scene as Cecco the pirate and running out of time to change into his narrator costume, ends up having to narrate in his underwear.
  • Company Cross References: Doubling as a Crossover Punchline, the climax of the BBC version sends the pirates sailing through the sets of Eggheads, BBC News at Ten, and Teletubbies, surprising cast members from all of those shows. By the time they finally return to their own stage, Po the Teletubby somehow ends up on their ship, and joins in the Peter Pan finale.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The pirates appear on Eggheads right after a contestant answers a question with the word, "Piracy".
  • Creative Closing Credits: In the BBC version, even the end credits fall apart.
  • Cross-Cast Role: In-universe, Robert's niece, Lucy, plays Tootles the Lost Boy.
  • Crowd Song: Peter's friends praise the power of imagination through the musical number "The World of Make Believe". The pirates also have their own shanty.
  • Cue Card Pause: During the Marooner's Rock scene, Dennis does not have his headset and Trevor has to feed him his lines via cue cards. Due to either being written in a hurry or in a sly attempt to troll Dennis, they break in some unfortunate places:
    • Also occurs when Trevor steps in as Peter, and has to read his lines from a script.
  • Demoted to Extra: At least in the BBC version, all the Lost Boys aside from Tootles are reduced to essentially an unnamed cameo during "The World of Make Believe". In which they appear as skimpily-clad girls.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: When the revolve starts spinning out of control in Act 2, the stage crew futily attempt to hold it down with gaffer tape.
    • Throughout Act 1 of the stage version, Chris' hook kept flying off, so he spent Act 2 with the hook gaffer taped to his arm.
  • Dull Surprise: Trevor reads the script in a dull monotone when he has to step in as Peter Pan.
  • Earpiece Conversation: This is how Dennis is given his lines (albeit with a large radio headset), as he can't remember them well enough on his own. Unfortunately, he ends up repeating everything that his headset plays back, including FM stations, police radios, and the prompter berating him for doing so.
    Dennis: Won’t you read us a lullaby, Mother? No Dennis, say it with feeling for God’s sake. NO. NO. Don’t repeat that, you idiot!
  • Endearingly Dorky: Max is a sweet, not-too-bright guy full of unbridled enthusiasm and friendliness. Sandra picks him over the showboating Jonathan in the end.
  • Foreshadowing: In the BBC version, during "The World of Make Believe", during Dennis' lines his headset switches channels, resulting in him singing the Teletubbies theme song, revealing that it is being taped on another stage at the same time. Later, when the revolving stage goes awry not only does the ship go through the Teletubbies set, but somehow Po ends up on the ship.
  • Funny Background Event: When Annie sings a lullaby as Mrs. Darling, the stagehands are in the background trying to get Robert unstuck from the doggie door. Eventually, they decide to cut him out and the sound of the power saw drowns out Annie's singing.
  • Gender Flip: The Lost Boys are all played by female actors. In the case of Tootles, the only one of them with an actual role in the story, this is clearly a case of Cross-Cast Role, but the others are all dressed in very feminine and rather skimpy clothes
  • Going Commando: At least in the TV special, when Wendy grabs onto Peter flying to Never Land, Sandra accidentally pulls down Jonathan's trousers, and reveals him to have no underwear.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: Nana gets stuck in the doggy door, twice.
  • Honking Arriving Car: Played for Laughs and a Running Gag throughout the performance. A car horn sound effect is used for a just-arrived cab outside the Darling residence... only for the sound effect to mistakenly repeat twice more in the ensuing scene, prompting the cast to ad lib that "three cabs" have arrived outside. The sound effect is inadvertently heard at other inopportune times throughout the rest of the Peter Pan performance in Neverland, prompting Chris, playing Captain Hook, to absurdly acknowledge "a cab's" off-screen presence in the most preposterous scenes.
    Liza: Your cab's here, Mr. Darling.
    Mr. Darling: Excellent, let's go down—
    Liza: Another cab's here, Mr. Darling.
    Mr. Darling: Excellent, let's go down—
    Liza: ...A third cab's here, Mr. Darling.
    Mr. Darling: Three cabs... One for Mary... One for me... And one for... my... hat.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Sandra plays Wendy surprisingly seductively despite the character being a child, Annie gyrates suggestively when portraying Tinkerbell, and "The World of Make Believe" features scantily-clad backing dancers (and Robert writhing around in a skin-tight leotard).
  • Informed Flaw: Max is said to be a terrible actor, when in reality he seems no worse than the rest. If anything, he's actually one of the better actors — he knows his lines, and knows Jonathan's well enough to jump in and substitute for him at a moment's notice, and he's pretty good at improvising when necessary. This may be explained through a combination of low self-esteem on Max's part and what are heavily implied to be plenty of over-inflated and preening egotists backstage; everyone treats Max like the worst actor both to prevent him from outshining them while simultaneously massaging their own egos, and Max simply lacks the confidence to assert himself.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: The pre-recorded audio portions reveal some unintentionally recorded, unflattering conversations regarding Max.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: In the BBC adaptation, Trevor clashes with the BBC stage manager over who has overall authority over the production.
  • Kicking My Own Butt: In the stage version, the adaptation of Peter Pan that the CPDS is performing calls for a fight between John Darling and Mr. Smee during the final battle. Since Dennis plays both characters, however, this means one actor beating himself up throughout the scene.
  • Kick the Dog: Jonathan-as-Peter takes a moment to reference the "crocodile, that nobody likes," while glaring directly at Max. To be absolutely fair, he had just found out Max had a thing for his girlfriend, but this still comes off as so spiteful and mean-spirited that in the TV recording, you can actually hear a couple of audience members booing him.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Annie starts kissing Jonathan while she is still woozy from being electrocuted. Jonathan responds rather enthusiastically. This trope might be why Sandra, although righteously pissed at Jonathan, isn't mad at Annie and can even be heard saying, "It's not your fault" to her.
  • Living Shadow: Peter's shadow is played by Robert in a black bodysuit.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: The first time Robert gets stuck in the doggie door, Chris has to squeeze himself through the back door, causing one of his shoes to slip off. He grabs it before he closes the door.
  • Love Triangle: One ensues between Max, Sandra, and Jonathan.
  • Medication Tampering: In keeping with the source material, Hook poisons Pan's medicine in the Play Within a Play. However, unlike the original, this goes on to have near-fatal effects on the actress playing Tink.
  • Mind Your Step: When Trevor (as Peter Pan) steps on to the table, he steps on a loose plank which flips up and hits him in the face, knocking him out.
  • Nepotism: In addition to Lucy, the play's dialogue explains that Max plays two roles as a result of his uncle making a generous donation to the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, while the TV special explains that Max's aunt owns the BBC. Played with a bit in Lucy's case, however, since she suffers from stage fright and doesn't seem to want to be there at all, but is bullied into participating by her uncle.
  • Newscaster Cameo: In the BBC version, after Robert crashes into some TV monitors, the feed cuts to the BBC News at Ten studio, and an unprepared Clive Myrie. Later, the pirate ship sails past him, in the midst of a report.
  • Never Work with Children or Animals:
    • According to the in-universe program, the CPDS apparently imported a live crocodile from Kenya to use in the shownote ; unfortunately, she broke free from her shipping container, injured her handlers, roamed the school, and was eventually killed by armed policemen.
    • The program also mentioned that when Robert took his Cornley Youth Theatre group to the New Forest to prepare for their production of Lord of the Fliesnote , he accidentally left 2 of the children behind on the return journey, and they haven't been seen again.
      Robert: [as written in the program] If either the McIntyre or Cordell family should read this, I again offer my deepest sympathies, and remind you once more that the annual membership fee is non-refundable.
  • No Indoor Voice: Except when singing, Dennis yells everything his headphones pick up, even if it has nothing to do with Peter Pan.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Or "No HSE Compliance", as 'twere. The set is a deathtrap. The players are frequently strapped into harnesses and banged into things. The real kicker is at one point, Annie is almost electrocuted to death, and when the actors call for a first-aider, they quickly realise that they only have one first-aider - Annie.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Robert's reaction to getting stuck in the door as Nana again.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The cast soldier on through prop malfunctions, set collapses, and numerous injuries. But when Annie is knocked unconscious for an extended period of time after her Tinkerbell light nearly electrocutes her, the whole play stops. Robert, who is one of the more committed to The Show Must Go On, scolds Lucy with "this is serious!" when she tries to help by moving on to the "I believe in fairies" chant.
  • The Other Darrin: In-universe: Peter Pan goes through three different actors, due to some accidents knocking Peter out cold.
  • Pantomime: invoked Most of the cast and the entire audience are there for a silly, entertaining show. Chris, however, seems to think he's doing a serious play, and keeps getting upset whenever the audience try and participate.
  • Performance Anxiety: Lucy suffers from a serious case of stage fright. She gradually overcomes it, to the extent that when the narrator goes unconscious, she manages to deliver his final speech.
  • Plank Gag: Robert (as Starkey) repeatedly knocks down Dennis (Smee) and Annie (Tiger Lily) by turning around too quickly while wearing the rowboat prop.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud:
    • Dennis says whatever is broadcast through his headset, even the director berating him for doing so.
    • Trevor does this when taking over for Jonathan, since he didn't have much time to study the script before going onstage. Plus, he's not an actor — he's a crew member who is heavily implied to have been dragged into being the understudy against his will.
  • Rescue Romance: Max wins Sandra's affections when he pushes her out of the way of some falling debris.
  • Role Reprise: invoked After Annie's electrocution in the BBC version, David Suchet tries to entertain the viewers with a Hercule Poirot impression.
  • Romance on the Set: In-universe, Jonathan and Sandra have a backstage fling.
  • Running Gag: Several:
    • A cab horn continually going off.
    • Lucy getting injured every time she shows up.
    • The audience treating the production as a pantomime, and Chris getting pissy when the audience treat the production as a pantomime.
    • Anyone "flying" is absolutely going to get hurt.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: The crocodile's lines consist only of, "Snap! Snap!"
  • Set Switch Song: The pirates get one in Act 2 as the set rotates from the Lost Boys' hideout to the Jolly Roger. Unfortunately, the revolve goes awry, and most of the song is spent with the cast and crew trying to get said revolve to stop.
  • The Show Must Go On: Say what you like about the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, but they don't give up and will finish their play, come what may.
  • The Show Must Go Wrong: Taken Up to Eleven compared to The Play That Goes Wrong.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Absolutely no one is spared. By the end, Annie's been electrocuted and Lucy's broken both her legs. Sandra dodges the worst of it, but is still tossed around a fair bit.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: Peter's shadow takes the thought of "dancing away" literally.
  • Stock Footage Failure: The BBC version has an invoked example. One conversation between Hook and his crew consists of pre-taped footage of Chris "at sea", and live footage of Dennis and Robert at Skull Rock. Chris' segments have a blatantly different setting, and interruptions from other people didn't get edited out.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Almost everything Dennis' headphones pick up during "The World of Make Believe" rhymes with the real lyrics... except for either a beep on stage, or the Teletubbies theme song on the BBC.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Tinker Bell doesn't usually talk, but she does help sing "The World of Make Believe", giving Annie more to do during the number than dance around.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Whenever one of Peter's actors exclaims, "To die would be an awfully big adventure!", he gets knocked out of commission. Gets a Triumphant Reprise at the end, where a newly-confident Lucy declares, "To live would be an awfully big adventure."
    • In one of those incidents, Trevor reads the stage direction, "Peter flies up onto the table." Having just been knocked into the walls and dropped multiple times, he immediately looks offstage at the rest of the crew and firmly shakes his head "no." He then goes for the safer option of using a chair to climb up onto the table — and promptly causes a plank to shoot up and knock him out cold.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: During the flying scene, Max and Dennis have to go out of the window, but the wires are no longer attached to either of them, so they just give each other a knowing look, grab each others' hands, brace for the worst, and jump.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: The two biggest punching bags, Max and Lucy, wind up being the ones that save the day.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: invoked Chris treats the production as if it's a serious play rather than the entertaining pantomime that the audience expects.
  • Trash the Set: Several catastrophes throughout the night leave the set wrecked.
  • The Unfavorite: Max laments having to play the crocodile, since apparently no one likes that character.
  • The Unintelligible: Starkey sounds nigh impossible to understand.
  • Walk the Plank: In a twist from the usual Peter Pan story, Hook sends Tootles down the plank.
    Robert: [looking nervously at his niece in her wheelchair] Tootles, Captain?!
  • Wardrobe Flaw of Characterization: Chris puts on a black four-in-hand necktie as part of his evening dress costume instead of the appropriate white bow-tie. It's a way of showing that the Cornley crew are a group of amateurs who make do and cut corners where they can in order to put on a show.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Robert insists on doing a truly incomprehensible pirate accent, ignoring Chris's protest during rehearsals. He keeps doing it when he has to ad-lib an instruction for Dennis to pick up an accidentally-dropped sword.
  • Woman Scorned: Sandra becomes rather pissed when she catches Jonathan and Annie kissing.

Video Example(s):


"A Cab!"

Sound effect misuse Played For Laughs.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HonkingArrivingCar

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