Kicking off the Christmas season with a pantomime-esque production, Mischief Theatre’s embellished revival of Peter Pan endures to tell the wondrous Scottish classic. The instantly recognisable tale has been engrained into the audience before its cast even have a chance to step foot on stage. However, this gives the company ample time to turn the Lowry theatre into their playground, with the production’s “stagehands” stumbling between the audience, pre-show for a hefty thirty minutes. By turning out balloon animals, fixing set pieces and bantering with members, the cast ensured that audiences are open to the call and response approach that runs throughout the show.
Following on from their introduction in The Play That Goes Wrong (2012), the affable Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are back to re-enact J.M Barrie’s 1904 fanciful tale of Peter Pan. In a story that has been framed by a fictional theatre group, the production envelops the audience in their sweeping, self-contained world that warps the classic fairy-tale in soap opera realism. Despite being comprised of family members and feuding talent, the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society have chosen to send the Lowry audience to Neverland with a fruitful production wrapped up in casting disputes, lighting issues and falling set pieces. Securing a loftier budget that makes space for fashionable pyjamas, resourceful sets and astonishing areal summersaults, the atmospheric world-building of Mischief Theatre is sure to give audiences a nostalgic kick to when slapstick reigned supreme.
The chaotic and unexpected add-ons to the timeless tale rework this fantasy narrative with full throttle, action-packed sequences. Using an ingenious three-piece, rotating set, the production immerses the audience into their collapsing world. Juggling dance sequences, forgotten lines and blackouts, the show places the comedy front and centre, with the remarkable cast keeping laser-pen focused on their meticulously planned gaffs, within the tightly packed stage.
We follow Peter (played by Ciaran Kellgren), Tinker Bell and the three Darling children to the land where dreams are born, as the trio are flown out to help Peter sew on shadows and save Tiger Lily from the notorious pirate Hook (Connor Crawford). This production keeps the traditional double casting of Mr Darling and Hook but ups the ante by quadrupling Phoebe Ellabani’s role as Mrs Darling, Lisa, Tinker Bell and Tiger Lily, forming ferociously quick costume changes and hilarious moments of physical comedy. Going all out with their rival performances, Oliver Senton (Nana the dog/Peter’s Shadow/Starkey) and Crawford perform choreographed mayhem that runs across Hook's pirate ship, the Darling’s bedroom and the Neverland woods.
Pulled together by the cast’s incredible physical stunts and the company’s childish sense of humour, Peter Pan Goes Wrong continues to raise the bar for slapstick comedy and will certainly have theatre audiences believing in the magic of Mischief Theatre.