Review: Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Alexandra Palace Theatre
- Credit: Alastair Muir
Hilarious, finely-tuned mayhem ensues as everything that can go wrong does go wrong when Am-drams try to stage JM Barrie’s timeless classic
Mischief Theatre Company's winning formula of staging finely-honed cack-handed amateurism debuted in 2012 in a tiny room above the Old Red Lion with The Play That Goes Wrong.
They followed it up with this more festive-tinged offering at another Islington venue, The Pleasance.
Since then the farcial juggernaut has enjoyed West End runs, an Olivier nod and now a tour taking in Alexandra Palace's artfully distressed Victorian theatre.
It's fair to say the accident-prone Cornley Polytechnic drama society are also distressed as they ambitiously try to stage JM Barrie's evergreen classic.
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The old trope that it takes technical skill and pinsharp timing to stage something that looks this disastrous has never been more true.
Director Adam Meggido marshals the visual gags, slapstick, fluffed lines and choreographed pandemonium to a crescendo that might just make you split your sides.
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Like Michal Frayn's Noises Off, to which Mischief owe an enormous debt, there is comedic interplay between the backstage and onstage world as the cast's egos and grudges (literally) bleed into the performance.
When a backstage discussion over who fancies who, and who is most hammy, is unwittingly broadcast, it's safe to say that these performers won't be pulling in the same direction.
There's Connor Crawford's preening luvvie director Chris, who doubles as Hook, a knowing, upstaging Wendy, and Tom Babbage's Max who really wants to play Peter but has been cast as the crocodile because his dad funded the show.
Even so there's an ongoing gag about the shoestring budget and cutting corners.
Simon Scullion's set is an extra character, a wayward revolve with collapsing bunkbeds, a dog flap that Nana gets stuck in, and a careening pirate ship that might be the definition of a nervous wreck.
And that's before the badly-rigged set starts electrocuting, collapsing, and concussing the cast.
All farce deals in human frailty, and as the Mischief writers know well, when combined with the tension and panic of staging a theatrical performance it's comedy gold.
By the time Tootles gets us all to shout 'I Do Believe in Fairies' to revive an unconscious Tinkerbell, you'll be hooked on this festive treat.
Until January 5 at alexandrapalace.com