Not too long ago, a comedy opened at the Duchess Theatre, and at that moment not many could have predicted that it would become a huge success (Olivier award for Best New Comedy included). The Play that Goes Wrong is that comedy and now, in time for the festive season, Mischief Theatre have just brought a new comedy at the Apollo Theatre, including members of the original cast of their first success.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong combines all the ingredients that have made its predecessor so successful: absurdity, perfect comedic timing, tons of stage mishaps and a touch of complete disaster. The Cornley Politechnic Drama Society is back with its Christmas show, for which they spared no expenses thanks to an unexpected donation. But, faithful to previous experiences, anything that can go wrong goes horribly wrong.
Saying that this play is hilarious is an understatement: it is achingly side-splitting. Of course, it is not refined enough to make you look at your companion with a bemused expression as if saying: ‘Oh dear! How cheeky!’. It is more of a roaring roller coaster of non-stop laugh-out-loud scenes that make you not want to ever leave. As in The Play that Goes Wrong, the audience witness not only the – disastrous – play but also the backstage issues with the actors, their personalities, relationships and overall craziness. This makes for an altogether unexpected ride where furniture collapses – usually on top of the actors – electricity fails, sets spin out of control and flying is never safe. However, what makes this comedy so powerful is its cast. Particularly Nancy Wallinger as Annie/Mrs Darling/Lisa/Tinker Bell/Tiger Lily, who is as incredibly talented as quick in changing characters. Also Dave Hearn as Max/Michael Darling/Crocodile is truly endearing and of course funny. The rest of the cast is equally talented and seemingly over-resistant to trips, punches, falls and whatnot. I just don’t understand how they keep a straight face throughout!
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is quite possibly the least Christmassy show of the season, but certainly the funniest. Even though it repeats to some extent the formula of its predecessor, it does so with such grace and imagination that everyone is left wanting more. It is also a great way to see the extraordinary cast of The Play that Goes Wrong back at their best in a new show that takes the beloved tale of Peter Pan and… well… destroys it. Quite literally.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is playing at the Apollo Theatre until 31 January. For more information and tickets, see the Nimax Theatres website.