Reviewed by Kim Bickerdike
As soon as I saw that Peter Pan Goes Wrong was showing at The Lowry in Salford, Manchester I knew I had to get tickets. Having seen and thoroughly enjoyed the multi-award winning The Play That Goes Wrong and A Comedy About A Bank Robbery both produced by Mischief Theatre Company I knew that this latest production would be a night of side splitting hilarity and boy did it deliver.
The story is a simple one, the much-loved classic Peter Pan, written by JM Barrie. Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society take to the stage to deliver their annual performance and before the first word is spoken things start to go wrong and the audience erupt into fits of laughter. The crew are as much a part of this show as the cast themselves. They interact with the audience, asking them to pass a lengthy ‘live wire’ to the back of the theatre to plug into the mains whilst shouting ‘don’t touch if you have a pacemaker’. The reason for this is due to an issue with Tinker Bells light up tutu. They decide the way to resolve this is to wire Tinker Bell up and have a crew member follow her around with an extension cable. Audience members sat behind me said ‘this is brilliant already’ and ‘I think I might wet myself’ which I think perfectly describes the mood of the theatre.
We are introduced to the Darling family and the adventure begins but not quite as you know it. From sound issues, forgotten lines, set problems, pyrotechnic faults and cast members playing more than one character this production is utterly chaotic and totally genius.
Phoebe Ellabani who is ‘Annie’ plays Mrs Darling, Lisa, Tinker Bell and Tiger Lilly, and some of these characters are in the same scenes at the same time which leaves Annie running backstage for rapid costume changes and leaves the audience howling with laughter and cheering loudly. She plays all of these characters amazingly well.
The character of Max who is played by Tom Babbage also plays multiple characters including Michael Darling, Mermaid and The Crocodile and he definitely got the biggest cheer of the night. Max not so secretly wanted to play the part of Peter Pan and had even learnt the lines, but he had only been cast in the show due to his uncles’ generous donation of £40,000. The audience are immediately on his side and the minute he steps on stage there is whooping and cheering much to Max’s delight who is lapping up the audience attention.
There are many fantastic performances throughout this whole show and the speed and intricacy of how the show is curated and performed is mind-boggling. There were many moments when I had tears in my eyes from the laughter and the lengthy rounds of applause each scene received is testament to the whole cast and crew.
The revolving set is nothing short of spectacular. There are 3 set ups The Darling Nursery, Neverland and The Jolly Roger, all of which host incredibly funny and really clever scenes. Of course, the set doesn’t work quite as well as it should and at one point the set revolves too far and we get to see a paramedic who is tending to an injured member of the cast. To try and hide this from the audiences view the set then speeds up and on the next rotation we see the paramedic clinging to the Jolly Roger and hooked up to an oxygen tank. The volume of laughter from the audience is like no other I have ever heard at the theatre
Audience participation is encouraged from the start and throughout and it was really enjoyable to be part of such an engaging and enthusiastic audience, there were people there of all ages and every one of them had a huge smile on their face.
Peter Pan That Goes Wrong is showing at The Lowry until Saturday, so if you haven’t got tickets already and fancy a festive farce then be quick, this is not a show you want to miss. My advice to anyone who is attending is to take your seats early and prepare to laugh… a lot!!!
I cannot wait for the next Mischief Theatre Company production in 2020
Tickets cost from £17 (booking fees may apply).
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at The Lowry in Manchester from 3-7 December 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000