Theatre Review: Peter Pan Goes Wrong at Royal & Derngate

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No Caption ABCDE NNL-150224-170948001

Back with another performance filled with mistakes, mishaps and general mayhem, the Mischief Theatre Company - producers of The Play that Went Wrong - have given the story of Peter Pan a farcical makeover.

From the moment you walk into the Royal auditorium the actors are already working their comedy magic; enthusiastically encouraging the audience to sing Happy Birthday to a woman, then announcing it was the wrong lady.

The scene is then set by the amusingly hostile ‘co-directors’ who argue over whether the production is a pantomime or a ‘vignette’.

References are also made to the cast’s previous health and safety breaches, bringing back vivid memories of the painful physical comedy perfected in The Play that Goes Wrong.

A lot of the funniest elements of that production are recreated, including the overly theatrical female performance, the dim witted actor and a narrator that keeps suffering embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions.

But one of the funniest elements of Peter Pan Goes Wrong was the ridiculously miscast young boy Michael Darling, played by the middle-aged, bearded Cornelius Booth.

The incongruous sight of the pyjama-clad Booth’s beard being twiddled by his mother as he was tucked into bed could not fail to raise a chuckle.

The creativity of the calamities is also pushed beyond the simple slapstick with faulty sound effects, worked by the breathtakingly incompetent stage manager, Trevor Watson (Chris Leask).

Leask provided a number of hilairious interruptions to the action, on one occasion he is left dangling upside-down in the middle of the stage with his backside on show after a failed attempt to fill in for Peter Pan.

In fact Leask’s ‘builder’s bum’ was on display on so many occasions it should probably get its own byline in the programme.

Another personal highlight was the performance of Chris Bean, playing Captain Hook, who fell into Basil Fawlty-style rages at the pantomime reactions he provoked from the audience.

Credit should also go to the designers of a revolving stage that provided three different scenes that are all used and abused to maximum effect in a chaotic conclusion to the show.

The Mischief Theatre Company has again achieved the difficult feat of producing a deliberately amateurish and calamitous show that provokes laughs, gasps and guffaws in equal measure.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday. To book go to www.royalandderngate.co.uk