Despite so much always seeming to go wrong, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down the juggernaut that is Mischief Theatre. Their original one act version of The Play That Goes Wrong took the company to the West End, Broadway and even to the small screen. Their spin off, Peter Pan Goes Wrong returns to the West End and the Lyric Theatre following a recent Broadway engagement and ahead of a UK tour.
The hapless members of the Cornley Drama Society are back to put their own well-intentioned spin on the J.M. Barrie classic, Peter Pan. It will come as no surprise to audiences, thanks to the title, that everything that can go wrong, does.
The cast are essentially playing two roles, the members of the drama society and then their parts in Peter Pan. And the ‘backstage crew’ make appearances too; unlucky Trevor (a wonderfully dead-pan Chris Leask) has to step in on more than one occasion to save the day.
Fans of the original The Play That Goes Wrong will recognise some of the jokes and most of the slapstick being used again here, it’s perhaps a case of knowing what works and sticking with it, but Henry Lewis, Henry Shields and Jonathan Sayer’s script is no less funny for it, and does do a good job of taking the original story and turning it into something even more exciting and unpredictable.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong does bring us some new laughs as well, and a fabulous set from Simon Scullion that features a revolve. This in itself provides plenty of opportunity for disaster and there’s a particularly enjoyable scene towards the end of act two where that revolve becomes the star of the show.
Speaking of stars, the wonderful thing about Mischief is their tight knit group of performers. Original cast members Charlie Russell and Nancy Zamit positively shine in their respective roles, with Zamit providing some impressive quick changes and a superbly sassy Tinkerbell.
But all of the cast, most of whom have a history with Mischief, are exceptional. Jean-Luke Worrell’s narrator is wonderfully expressive (and always accompanied by glitter), while Greg Tannahill’s confident Pan matches the alter-ego which takes the form of love cheat Jonathan.
The audience falls in love with Max, who plays Michael Darling and the Crocodile, and who in real life is the very talented Matthew Cavendish. While this isn’t a pantomime there is of course a villain in Captain Hook played by ‘Chris the director’ played by Harry Kershaw, who has the audience in frenzied hysterics with an act two diatribe that is one of the show’s many highlights.
The actual director of Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Adam Meggido, makes everything look flawless. The scenery may be collapsing, the lines fluffed and the sound cues all over the place, but be in no doubt this is tightly choreographed chaos and the skill on display is what has made the team so successful.
You’ll be hard pushed to find another show in London that makes you laugh quite as hard as Peter Pan Goes Wrong (except perhaps Mischief’s other show currently playing at the Duchess Theatre). Yet again, this team prove themselves to be masters of the genre and that no one else does going wrong so right.