Peter Pan Goes Wrong – The Alexandra, Birmingham

Reviewer: Nicole Craft

Writers: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields

Director: Adam Meggido

In the world of Peter Pan’s Neverland, where children fly, crocodiles eat pirates and the leading baddie has a hook for a hand, there is plenty of opportunity for disaster to strike; add in an amateur dramatic group by the name of Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society (brought to you by Mischief Theatre), and the opportunity turns into the inevitable with disaster promised at every turn.

Mischief Theatre has made quite the name for itself since its flagship show The Play That Goes Wrongdebuted back in 2013, its overwhelming success making it easy to forget that Peter Pan Goes Wronghas been on the scene for just as long.

Those taking their seats early are treated to some pre-show frolics with the actors and stage managers adding the ‘finishing touches’ to the set while setting the tone for the chaos that is to ensue. Then comes Director Chris and co-Director Assistant Director Robert to introduce the, as Chris insists, absolutely not-a-pantomime (Oh yes…you know the drill) of Peter Panthey are about to present and once the pair finally stop bickering, two-hours of line fluffs, set crashes, mad-cap costume changes and last-minute cast swaps begin.

Neither those that know ofThe Play That Goes Wrongor those that don’t can be even slightly disappointed at the comedy of errors that Mischief manages to pull off here, although the earlier cannot help but compare the two and notice it doesn’t always fully match up – with the pacing falling on occasion and a few mistimed misfortunes letting it down. However, none of this can take away from the auditorium full of belly-laughs and the mischief that Mischief is well known for certainly shines through.

Katy Daghorn, as Sandra playing Wendy Darling, has the least opportunity for laughs when it comes to the slapstick, however, fully makes up for it with Sandra’s fantastically over-the-top expressions and movement, putting way more than her all into a somewhat dull character to ensure she shines. Max (Tom Babbage) captures our hearts, not as Michael Darling, but as the crocodile, and portrays the pantomime-underdog well. Romayne Andrews is a brilliant Dennis, perfecting a deadpan delivery of Dennis’s headset-fed lines to hilarious effect at times. The not-a-panto debate between Chris (George Haynes) and Robert (Oliver Senton), and their general competition for accolades, is a continuous theme and Haynes and Senton’s efforts here often rank higher than the slapstick.

It’s extremely hard to knockPeter Pan Goes Wrong,but as with all theatre, it’s impossible not to judge a show based on what you know is possible to achieve, and it’s here that Mischief is, once again, a victim of its own success.The Play That Goes WrongIs ultimately flawless and as a result, the very slight flaws here are noticed. It just misses the standard now expected from Mischief, although that ‘just’ really is minuscule and shouldn’t be a deterrent from those wanting a highly-entertaining evening out.

Well worth a watch (Oh yes it is!).

Runs until 22 February 2020

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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