By Carly Fisher
Back in Sydney after the great success of their 2017 production The Play that Goes Wrong, Mischief Theatre Company presents the next installment of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s theatrical endeavours, a production of Peter Pan.
After much last-minute show preparation commotion throughout the theatre whilst audiences enter, the show opens to the familiar banter of the Director and Assistant Director introducing the production and providing somewhat of an update on the happenings of the group since we last saw them take the stage.
With this, Peter Pan Goes Wrong begins and every mishap, error, line miss, technical fail, set destruction and theatrical disaster that you expect from this show, begins. What ensues is every theatre producer and director’s worst nightmare as actors get stuck in dog doors, fly systems fail (and also whisk away the clothes of the Darling children whilst on their way to Neverland), audio cues are replaced by extremely personal details of the cast, and triple stacked bunk beds come crashing down…and that’s only the beginning.
The show brings the height of British slapstick humour to Australian audiences who seemingly lap it up. The opening night audience roared at this farce and subscribed wholeheartedly to the hilarity of the jokes, time after time after time, perhaps only increasing in intensity with every round of repetition. It may be surprising to those less entertained by this extreme form of humour, but many of Sydney’s audiences really love these kinds of shows.
For me, whilst Act I delivered some great laughs, Act II tiptoed too close to the edge of simply being silly and undermined the comedic genius behind the writing team of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Harry Shields. Whilst the use of repetition is often important in the establishment of a joke for this sort of farcical humour, the reliance on the rotating set in Act II to tell these jokes made the second half feel long and unnecessary.
To perfect the imperfect is no easy job and the cast and crew of this production have done an extraordinary job at keeping us on our toes throughout the demise of Peter Pan, as we wait to see what the next disaster will be. The entire team, but especially the Stage Management team, deserve huge cudos for the perfection of these stunts – the danger seems very real to the audience and the safe practice of all these tricks is an enormous credit to each member of the cast and crew. It looks like hard work and no doubt it is!
The cast features some hilarious performances; Tammy Weller’s ridiculously fast switches between Mary Darling and the Darling’s maid leave the audience in stitches, and when she returns (plugged into an extension cable) as the sparkling Tinkerbell, the audience really loses it. In this show, Weller truly shines! Francine Cain (Wendy) turns this children’s classic character into a one woman dance show (complete with a full song and dance number), Jordan Prosser (Michael and the Crocodile) offers a truly endearing performance, however it is Jay Laga’aia who wins the audiences’ hearts as he leads a sing-a-long of the playschool theme song.
Ultimately, Peter Pan Goes Wrong does not quite live up to the high bar set by The Play that Goes Wrong, however, the impeccable timing (the slightly under 2 hour show runs like clock work!) and the cast’s total dedication to being the but of the joke makes this a fun night at the theatre that the whole family can enjoy.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.