Nine months on from their presentation of The Play That Goes Wrong, simply one of the funniest plays I have ever seen and a tough act to follow, the wonderful members of Mischief Theatre are back with a Christmas offering that is every bit as funny and even more inventive.
This version of the panto favourite as performed by the hapless Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is considerably more ambitious in scope and scale than “Play” but the increased length isn’t at the expense of laughs. The comedy, both physical and verbal, comes at a breathtaking pace. The sight gags are expertly choreographed and even though you think you’re ready for the next disaster to befall the beleaguered thesps, they conjure up another hilarious surprise. On a gags-per-minute ratio this must be one of the best value comedies ever.
Somewhere amid the chaos, they stick to J M Barrie’s original narrative, but it’s overwhelmed by missed cues, scenery and prop disasters and off-stage politics spilling into the performance.
The ensemble cast plays it to perfection and the ever-increasing chaos is superbly crafted by them and director Adam Meggido. The highlight for me though was a big musical number that sees some gloriously inappropriate moves from Charlie Russell as Wendy Darling.
The Play That Goes Wrong received a deserved West End transfer, but I’d imagine that because of its seasonal nature that is unlikely to happen with Peter Pan — at least for another year. Therefore, I’d urge you to get along to the Pleasance Theatre to see this hilarious triumph of a play. Physical comedy really doesn’t come much better than this.
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, after J M Barrie
Director Adam Meggido
Chris/Mr Darling/Captain Hook – Henry Shields
Robert/Nana/The Shadow/Starkey – Henry Lewis
Jonathan/Peter Pan – Greg Tannahill
Dennis/Michal Darling/Mermaid – Jonathan Sayer
Francis/Narrator/Smee – Harry Kershaw
Sandra/Wendy Darling – Charlie Russell
Annie/Mrs Darling/Tiger Lily/Nancy Wallinger (covered by Sophie Howard on the night I went)
Lucy/Nibs – Daisy Waterstone
Max/John Darling – Dave Hearn
Trevor/Stage Manager – Rob Falconer
Reviewed by Tony Peters
Playing at the Pleasance Theatre until 5th January 2014