Review by Flossie Waite
At London’s Apollo Theatre 20th Oct 2016 – 29th Jan 2017
For ages 8+
When so much can go wrong, how does it ever go right? After watching Mischief Theatre’s festive offering, it seems a miracle that any performance of any play passes without a cast member being stabbed, electrocuted, concussed or left dangling upside-down in mid-air. Peter Pan Goes Wrong is the brilliantly shoddy show that makes other productions look good.
Meet Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, a group of amateur thesps with acting skills so hammy even David Cameron would turn his nose up. In a blaze of huge hand gestures and tacky synth music, this calamitous bunch try their best to bring us Peter Pan. There’s the director with a pantomime-complex, a Wendy who finds it impossible to actually look at who she’s addressing rather than staring at the audience, a shadow that longs for the limelight, and a crocodile who plays the part “like a mammal.”
Still, the endlessly funny script (written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields) is a surprisingly faithful rendition at times, with lines borrowed from J. M. Barrie’s original stage-text (albeit delivered at hyper-speed). The tradition of doubling continues: even with the help of headphones feeding him lines, Dennis (Jonathan Sayer) struggles to remember who he’s playing, and an overworked Annie (Nancy Wallinger) can’t take on four roles without flashing her pants.
Simon Scullion’s set is less wooden than the am dram performers, animatedly participating in the mishaps and accidents. The effort that goes into creating riotous catastrophe cannot be overestimated: expert timing, unswerving energy, and a thorough Risk Assessment are key. For a wonderfully silly play that will leave you in stitches (and the cast on crutches), fly to the Apollo Theatre: second star to the wrong, and straight on ’til morning.
Images by Tristram Kenton
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