Writers: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer &Henry Shields
Director: Adam Meggido
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
Mischief Theatre are doubtlessly flying high after their Olivier Award win at the weekend for The Play That Goes Wrong (the first in their now expanding ‘Goes Wrong’ series). The latest outing for the band of horrors they have created, The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, is in a production of J.M. Barrie’s beloved Peter Pan: “it’s not a pantomime,” bellows Captain Hook at an audience more than willing to roar “it’s behind you”, “it’s a Christmas vignette” (in April). As it turns out it’s a series of uproarious vignette’s filled with mischief, madness and mayhem.
There seems to be a tad less falling scenery in Peter Pan Goes Wrong than its predecessor, but all the familiar elements are here, as well as every cliché of the Am-Dram circuit: props go awry, the set malfunctions, the sound effects are way off cue and wide of the mark, inappropriate songs and choreography are shoe-horned into the plot and there are stage hands who make more appearances on stage than some of the actors.
To pull off being this bad, the writing and the cast must be exceptional – and thankfully both are. Henry Shields, Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer have once again managed to retain all the classic elements of Barrie’s classic work, enough to keep the story flowing amid all the madness and their cast are, to a man, practically faultless. From little Michael Darling, played with an enormous grey bushy beard by (very) mature student Robert Grove (Cornelius Booth), through a Wendy (Leonie Hill) who seems to be under the impression she’s in either the X-Factor or an R&B video with her highly inappropriate ‘moves’, the tightly wound director and Captain Hook (Laurence Pears) who is losing his scant grip on affairs as each moment passes, to the multi-tasking Annie Twilloil (Naomi Sheldon), who has to quick change, with varying degrees of success, from Mrs. Darling, The Maid, Tinker Bell, Tiger Lily to a pirate, the actors are throughout, impeccable.
There is a degree of predictability about the whole thing for those who have seen The Play That Goes Wrong but there’s still more than enough to keep you laughing out loud throughout. The scene where Nana the canine nurse maid gets stuck in the dog flap and has to be liberated by a stage hand with a chainsaw and more than an eyeful of builder’s bum is one mascara-busting,tears rolling down your face, highlight among an evening of belly-laughs.
If it’s a spring pick me up you’re looking for then look no further than Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
Runs until Sat 18 April 2015 then touring.