Mischief Theatre, Kenny Wax and Stage Presence
Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, music Richard Baker and Rob Falconer
3 December 2019 - 7 December 2019; 2hr 10min
Audience appetites for watching comedy mayhem seem insatiable, as masters of the genre Mischief Theatre offer - carefully planned - mishaps in subjects as diverse as plays, magic, films and bank robberies.
The “goes wrong” franchise is currently conquering the world, with productions in China, Australia, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Israel, Scandinavia, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, America, Turkey, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa, to name just a few. And all achieved in just under a decade after a group of drama students had an idea…
Here it‘s Peter Pan that gets the treatment as the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society once more proves that even with another cast of the hammed-up am-dram types you’ve seen parodied many times before, you can have a show that flies. Just not in the way its perpetrators intend...
Virtually every theatrical cliche is exhumed for ridicule, from forgotten lines to actors dashing around trying to make impossible quick changes.
We meet the Cornley cast and crew as they present their own adaptation of the JM Barrie classic and, as their previous efforts revealed in The Play That Goes Wrong, with Cornley nothing much goes to script. Things break or just aren’t there. Scenery descends unexpectedly and the revolving set, part Darlings’ nursery, part Jolly Roger and part Neverland, is one of the stars of the show as it takes on a crazy life of its own.
Among consistently wrong sound effects, injuries and costume mishaps there is of course the flying. This being Peter Pan we have all been waiting to see just what catastrophe awaits when the cast takes to the air...
There are glimmers of real people trying their best to make sure the show must go on. Connor Crawford’s slip-sliding, hapless Chris, playing both Mr Darling and Captain Hook, suffers much of the knock-about and does it with feeling.
Oliver Senton’s egocentric, booming thespian of the old school, here playing Nana the dog and Peter Pan’s shadow among others, is a scene-stealer who deservedly gets his comeuppance. Among the rest, Phoebe Ellabani manages to switch between Mrs Darling, Lisa the maid, Tinkerbell and Tiger Lily with life-threatening results.
The audience I saw it with, totally packing The Lowry’s largest auditorium, absolutely loved it, many clearly having seen it at least once before.
But I was a little disappointed. Not enough surprises, not enough danger, too much safe choreography. I was never as worried as I ought to be that something really unexpected might go wrong. Two bits were funny and met that criteria – a bunk bed collapse and the ship tilt. None of the rest matched up to them but nevertheless it is a very good, family-friendly alternative pre-Christmas show.
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