From the second you enter the theatre, the action has begun. Stagehands fumble with electrical cables, persistently ask the audience members for a hammer, gossip about the cast members and generally cause mischief. Right from the get-go, the energy of the cast is remarkable and does not waver throughout the production.
Every member of the 14 strong cast is an expert at being professionally unprofessional. They execute a perfectly awful production with skilful clumsiness and hilarious awkwardness. The physical comedy throughout is extraordinarily clever. Slips, stumbles and slaps come out of nowhere. At the end of the production, when the cast had been sufficiently battered about, it was evident that this show must be exhausting.
The set is ingeniously designed to fail in every way possible. Set designer, Simon Scullion, must have had his work cut out to safely create rooms able to collapse onto cast members in a multitude of ways. Not only did the play make use of set mishaps, but every other design element thinkable; lights, costumes, props, pyrotechnics, sound recordings, you name it – it added to the madness. Even though I was always trying to anticipate the next blunder, I was still delightfully surprised when a prop would malfunction, an actor would go rogue, or a technical cue would result in smoke or flames. At one point I believe I could even smell burning!
With opportunities for the audience to heckle the actors in classic pantomime-style (against the acting director’s insistence that this is not a pantomime!!), we become entirely involved in messing up the play a bit ourselves. This show certainly immerses its audience, possibly even too much at times. Constantly laughing at the uninterrupted slapstick comedy can become tiring; we are not given much time to sit back and relax, whilst watching the plot unfold.
Peter Pan is a perfect choice for a Mischief Theatre Production. With so many opportunities for havoc including flying people, fight scenes and quirky characters, I began to wonder how a production of Peter Pan could ever go right! Yet even with this excellent choice of show, the scandalous subplot amongst the cast was refreshing and welcome. Hearts were melted whilst we rooted for underdog Max, playing Michael Darling and the Crocodile, as his affection for Wendy was revealed. It was an intriguing and lovable addition to the performance.
There are too many creative moments to mention from Peter Pan Goes Wrong. I can barely begin to describe the under-the-sea luminescent puppetry scene or the post-interval musical number. You’ll just have to find out for yourself! Despite the name, I could never have predicted how much could be made to go wrong. This might be the first time that I am delighted to offer a review that can confidently conclude: this show is utter mayhem, and everything certainly went wrong!
PHOTOS: Alastair Muir