And so it starts - the timeless story of Peter Nap. Picture: Pamela Raith

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Wolverhampton Grand


It was a very rainy night in the Black Country, which welcomed the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society to the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre for their fingers-crossed, it'll be all right on the night,  performance of Peter Pan.

I took my two sons with me and was interested to see their view on some old school comedy in a world which is consumed by social media and ever shortening attention spans. I needn’t have worried as they both absolutely loved it.

While they may not get every gag (there is something for everyone) they just sensed the fun and the joy and the realms of possibility of what might, and did go wrong.

As a production it does not disappoint, as it starts off ropey and rapidly goes from bad to worse. The packed audience can’t help but feed off the energy of the cast thus watching the production is like transporting you back in time to a bygone age when audiences were participants of shows rather than passive onlookers. dog

Thriving on the hapless mayhem unfurling on stage, the audience almost becomes a mischievous part of the marvellous cast. There are heckles a plenty and boos and hisses and plenty ‘oh yes it is’  (Oh no there wasn’t!).

All in all it’s just really, really good fun. Mischief theatre lives up to it’s name – right down to the programme, the first half of which is produced by Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and is as entertaining a programme you will ever hope to find. 

The cast itself is top notch, with everyone at the top of their game. Jean Luke Worrell is fabulous as the narrator and Matthew Howell is a consumer of scenes as Nana the dog and peter’s shadow.

My personal favourite was Jack Michael Stacey as Mr Darling and Hook. His physicality was impressive and his interplay with the audience was genuinely entertaining. To name a favourite though is doing a disservice to the rest of the cast (my two companions both loved Theo Toksvig-Stewart as Max and the crocodile and Clark Devlin as John Darling).

Completing the Darling clan was the fabulous Ciara Morris as Wendy, whilst Jamie Birkett played the trio of Mrs Darling, Lisa and Tinkerbell to great comedic effect. There was additional comedy magic via Rosemarie Akwafo as long suffering Tootles and Jake Burgum as stagehand Trevor, whilst Gareth Tempest played a not so innocent Peter Pan.

Set designer Simon Scullion, does an excellent job of making attractive sets which hide surprises aplenty. The perfect accompaniment is the sound, provided by sound designer Ella Wahlstrom, which inadvertently cranks up the embarrassment and drives the plot along nicely.

The choreography by Nancy Zamit and Dave Hearn is on point – I cannot begin to imagine how complicated it is to stage something like this and make it first of all safe and second of all look completely unstaged. Stunt consultant Jami Quarrell, movement director Jocelyn Prah and Health and Safety consultant John Young must have had their work cut out on this production.   

In a delightful irony the play was briefly paused as something which was supposed to go wrong, had indeed gone wrong but at the wrong time, so needed to be fixed, so it could then go wrong at the right time. If you see what I mean. It perfectly sums up the show – it has an exactness to it and a subtlety that makes the most particular movement, or head shake or utterance, seem perfectly plausible and improvised when in fact it is perfectly written and choreographed – it’s certainly not easy looking this bad.

There is something wonderfully British about the whole play that goes wrong ethos – and out of the ashes of disaster emerges stoic heroes and stiff upper lips, determined to finish at all costs. Above everything it is a show which has great heart and lots and lots of laughs.

It runs at the Grand until November 4th with tickets starting from £15.50 , which is an absolute steal for this quality of production. There are family tickets available, captioned performances, signed performances, wheelchair positions bookable and also audio described performances. You can buy your tickets here.

With an age rating of 8+ (about right in my opinion) this is a show that can appeal to the whole family and judging by the state of guffaws from the audience, it definitely did appeal to every family present. I know mine loved it and I rather think yours will too. To 04-10-23.

Theo Clarke


The Cornley Polytechnic Darma Society will be trying to get Peter Pan right again at the Alexandra Threatre, Birmingham 18-23 March, 2024. 

Index page Grand Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre