Writers: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields
Director: Adam Meggido
It’s been an incredible few years for Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Sheilds and the team behind Mischief Theatre Company. Their rise has really been a theatrical dream come true. Starting life in a small 50 seat, above a pub theatre in central London to having three productions running simultaneously in the West End, national and international tours a stint on Broadway and now a prime-time TV show on BBC, its hard to see what happens next for this impressive team.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is the second production by Mischief, following The Play That Goes Wrong and as the title suggests, follows the exploits of The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they mount their haphazard amateur production of J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan. It’s not just the physical that gets a little frantic, the characters lives are also exposed in all their hilarious and often excruciatingly painful ways. (I don’t think I will ever be able to listen to “Boy for Sale” from Oliver in quite the same way again!)
It’s ever so easy to manipulate an audience to feel sadness, anger and empathy, but far more difficult to make a packed out theatre roar with laughter and somehow the team at Mischief mange to create something magical, that brings more laughs per minute than a Tim Vine or Milton Jones stand-up show. Played out upon Simon Scullion’s ever-impressive rotating set, this comic troupe of physical clowns never rest as they flip, fall, and fool around right until the final curtain comes ripping down in front of them.
Director Adam Meggido ensures the show is fast-paced but also manages to find a brilliant balance between the lighter comedy and the blacker, bleaker moments. It’s testament to the company that they manage to pull this spectacle off without (or seemingly without) any mishaps – but then the way writers Henry Shields, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Lewis have managed to cleverly construct their farce, it would be difficult to prove if anything really did go wrong.
At the press performance, it would seem life imitates art with several last-minute cast changes, Tom Babbage fits perfectly into the role of Director Chris and portrays Hook with real panache. Christian James flies with energy as Peter Pan but from all the replacements it’s associate director Fred Gray who totally gets the audience in the palms of his hands as the lovable rogue Max. Oliver Senton’s co-director Robert is played with real weight, his hammy yet sincere portrayal providing plenty to laugh at. Phoebe Ellabani as Annie executes arguably the most costume changes in such a short period of time, but it’s her feisty Tinkerbell that really explodes on stage in more than one way.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong, soars for all the right reasons and provides audiences young and old a rare opportunity to enjoy a night at the theatre together, where laughter reigns supreme.
Runs until 26 January 2020 then continues on tour