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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:

  • 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.
    • Max plays Michael and the Crocodile.
    • Annie plays Mrs. Darling, Liza the maid, Tinker Bellnote , Tiger Lily, and a female pirate.
    • 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.
  • 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: 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.
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  • 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.
  • Black Comedy: In the TV broadcast, David Suchet'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.
  • Blatant Lies: 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 then move your car!
  • 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: The cords meant to lift up the Darling children tear off their pajamas instead.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Sandra (Wendy's actress) and Dennis experience this after losing their PJs, while Max deliberately pulls his pants down to match them.
  • 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.
  • 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. In a Contrived Coincidence, the pirates appear on Eggheads right after a contestant answers a question with the word, "Piracy". 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.
  • 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 Francis has to feed him his lines via cue cards. Due to being written in a hurry, they break in some unfortunate places:
  • Demoted to Extra: At least in the BBC version, each Lost Boy aside from Tootles has his role reduced to essentially an unnamed cameo during "The World of Make Believe".
  • Earpiece Conversation: Dennis The Ditz has so much trouble remembering his lines, he comes onto stage wearing a giant headset, so someone could read the script to him.
  • 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.
  • Going Commando: At least in the TV special, when Wendy grabs onto Peter flying to Never Land, Sandra accidentally pulls down Jonathan's pants, and reveals him to have no underwear.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: Nana gets stuck in the doggy door, twice.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Annie starts kissing Jonathan while she is still woozy from being electrocuted. Jonathan responds rather enthusiastically.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • No Indoor Voice: Except when singing, Dennis yells everything his headphones pick up, even if it has nothing to do with Peter Pan.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Robert's reaction to getting stuck in the door as Nana again.
  • 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.
  • Panty Shot: Annie gets one when she has to change from Mrs. Darling to Tinker Bell, and goes backstage through the doggy door.
  • 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.
    • Jonathan's understudy does this, since he didn't have much time to study the script before going onstage.
  • Rescue Romance: Max wins Sandra's affections when he pushes her out of the way of some falling debris.
  • Role Reprisal: 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.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: The crocodile's lines consist only of, "Snap! Snap!"
  • 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.
  • 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 Voiced: 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.
  • 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, Sandra sends Tootles down the plank.
  • Woman Scorned: Sandra becomes rather pissed when she catches Jonathan and Annie kissing.

Example of: