Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Reviewed by Matt Forrest

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It is of course the time of year for that most British of institutions…the Panto, so it’s only fair that the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society have a crack at it with their version of Peter Pan. The trouble is this lot are to high-quality theatre what the Daily Mail is to fair and unbiased reporting!

The Cornley PDS are of course the creation of super-talented Mischief Theatre Company, who bring their smash-hit Peter Pan Goes Wrong, to the Lowry just in time for the festive season.

Like their pervious offering, The Play That Goes Wrong, this production focuses on the hard working, but inept ‘amdram’ troop as they attempt to put on a performance of JM Barrie’s classic, which as director Chris Bean is at great pains to stress “isn’t a pantomime, more a  Christmas classic”, with disastrous, yet hilarious results.

This is a play within a play, as the Cornley players each with their egos, foibles and lack of ability soldier on in an attempt to put on the best show possible: these include, Jonathan, as Peter Pan (Ciaran Kellgren), a lady’s man, whose wandering eye and haphazard flying technique keep plunging the show into chaos. We also have Sandra, as Wendy Darling (Katy Daghorn) who is desperate to standout from the crowd, with a somewhat OTT, performance. Then there is Max, as Michael Darling/crocodile (Tom Babbage) who is only in the show because his family are bank rolling it, he also has a soft spot for Sandra.

In addition to these three, we have egotistical co-directors Chris and Robert (Connor Crawford and Oliver Senton), a petrified actor, Lucy (Georgia Bradley) searching for her voice, Dennis (Rommayne Andrews) an actor, who needs his lines feeding to him via headphones. Then there is Francis, the show’s narrator (Patrick Warner) who is having all manner of issues with his stage entrance/exit, and pyrotechnics, then finally Annie (Phoebe Ellabani) who has more costume changes than Beyoncé. As well as these combustible elements, there are technical difficulties blighting the performance from radio interference from a local taxi firm, to a revolving stage with a mind of its own.

Once again Mischief have created another comic masterpiece, full of slapstick, outstanding physical comedy, great comedic set pieces which come thick and fast, sure some of the gags you can see coming a mile off but that’s half the fun of it. The show is very similar in delivery to that of Mischief’s previous productions, but it’s a format that clearly works and is a must for fans or a perfect introduction to what they are all about.

There is so much to admire from the outstanding cast, who all get their moments to shine, the clever writing, and most impressive of all the technical wizardry of the production team all combine to make this show such a treat.

Just like a puppy this show shouldn’t be just for Christmas, it will bring you joy and laughter no matter what time of year you watch it.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at the Lowry till 7th December tickets available here.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

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Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Writer Matt Forrest

It would appear that anything Mischief Theatre touch turns to gold; maybe they should rename themselves the Midas Theatre instead. First, there was the enormously popular The Play That Goes Wrong, which is a huge West End and Broadway smash. This was followed up by Peter Pan Goes Wrong, which although did not perform quite as well still proved immensely popular. Now the company return to the Lowry with their third offering: The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

Set in 1958, we are transported too Minneapolis, a city ravaged by crime, where no one is to be trusted: in addition, the city is blighted by a seagull problem that seems to be getting out of hand. Despite Minneapolis becoming the crime capital of the USA, Prince Ludvig of Hungary is bringing the Hungarian royal family’s crown jewels over to Minneapolis for a state visit, and everyone wants a piece of them!

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The list of suspects include: shady bank manager Robin Freeboys (Damian Lynch), his manipulative daughter, (Julia Frith), local street hustler Sam, (Sean Carey), escaped convict Mitch Ruscitti (Liam Jeavons), and his hapless sidekick, Cooper, (David Coomber). As plans are forged and alliances formed just who will walk away with the centrepiece of the crown jewels, the Maguvin Diamond: a 300-carat stone with a huge value.

I am not ashamed to say I loved The Play That Goes Wrong and was looking forward to this show immensely: I’m glad to say it did not disappoint. Heavily influenced by the films of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, who brought us the Naked Gun and Airplane series, this smart, innovative and ridiculous comedy will have you grinning like a Cheshire cat. The Comedy About A Bank Robbery draws heavily from the ‘Teen Exploitation’ films of the 1950’s and is more a love letter to them than it is to the heist/bank robbery genre, which is a welcome surprise.

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Getting off to a slow start by Mischief’s standards, the first act is packed full gags around word play, who knew the name Robin Freeboys could be such resource for material? However, following the interval, the production leaps from one set piece to another showcasing the physical comedy the company have become famed for; highlights include a three-man fight performed by one man (the super talented George Hannigan playing as credited Everyone Else) and the trademark ‘dangle from a rope sequence’ with a twist. The undoubted highlight is the jaw dropping and innovative sequence as the would-be bank robbers view the bank from inside the ventilation ducts plotting their approach: spectacular and visually brilliant this scene alone is worth the price of admission.

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With this production we are treated to something a little different with a few songs and dance routines which showcase the fantastic voice of Ashley Tucker, these again are firmly in keeping with the absurd nature of the show.

There are a few minor issues: some of the scene changes could be a bit slicker, and there is a slight pacing issue, however these are minor quibbles. This is a show so packed full of visual and verbal gags that there is something for everyone. Unlike most major banks following the crash of 2008 I cannot see the stock on this production diminishing anytime soon!

The Comedy About a Bank Robbery is at the Lowry until 15th September tickets available here.

 

The Play That Goes Wrong

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Bursting onto the Lowry stage this week with a crash, bang and almighty wallop is West End smash hit and recent Broadway transfer, The Play That Goes Wrong.

Mischief Theatre have come a long way since their humble beginnings in an Inslington Pub and their original production continues to thrill as the company delivers the silliest and most calamitous night out at the theatre you’re ever likely to witness.

Cornley Polytechnic amateur dramatic club invite us to join them as they attempt to stage their bold new production, Murder at Haversham Hall, a 1920’s murder mystery which quickly becomes less whodunnit and more survival of the fittest.

The catastrophes begin immediately as the lights go up prematurely as our victim is still getting himself in place on the chaise lounge. Anything that could go wrong absolutely does in this riotous romp of farcical fun. The physical comedy is hilarious with gag after gag hitting you thick and fast, you just about regain your composure when another disaster unfolds and tears of laughter begin again. From missing props, to set malfunctions you can’t quite believe what you’re seeing as the cast press on with their ‘show must go on attitude’ and remain completely in character despite the chaos unfolding all around them.

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High praise must go to this hardworking ensemble cast, the teamwork involved to enable such slick delivery is impressive; their commitment to making things look so delightfully disastrous is incredible as the madcap mayhem leaves audiences exhausted from laughing so hard. Each person on stage gives their all in this high energy romp and together creates the most wonderful team. Special mention must go to Alistair Kirton as Cecil Haversham he is superb, so thrilled with his own performance any audience applause is too wonderful to ignore. Also Patrick Warner as Inspector Carter, his attempts to remain calm amidst the madness are hilarious. Making it all possible is Nigel Hook’ set which is superb, intricate and sophisticated with all manner of opportunities for disasters to unfold as every piece has its part to play.

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The Play That Goes Wrong is the perfect tonic; the company deliver the most seamless escapist fun, something so important in current times. It’s chaotic, silly, brilliantly bonkers and delightfully daft, an absolute must see!

On at The Lowry until Saturday 10th June https://www.thelowry.com/events/the-play-that-goes-wrong