The all-conquering Mischief Theatre Company returns for a second year with its festive treat that gives them a third show running concurrently in the West End, along with the Olivier-winning The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy about a Bank Robbery.
And you’d have to be pretty churlish to deny them the success because this take on JM Barrie’s classic children’s tale is another masterclass of invention and physical comedy.
There probably isn’t anyone who’s not familiar with the story of the boy who never grew up, but those who aren’t will be none the wiser after the hapless Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s interpretation.
If you’ve seen “Play” you’ll know the form by now. Everything that can go wrong does. Cues are missed, scenery collapses and props take on lives of their own, putting the survival of the irrepressible but incompetent cast in danger. Add in some nice touches of backstage politics plus actor pretentions and it’s a recipe for a two-hour feast of sumptuous silliness. And there’s flying, of course.
The cast playing the cast don’t put a foot wrong — well they do, that’s the point. Timing is key here and it’s carried off with aplomb. There are hilarious turns from Harry Kershaw as Mr Darling and Captain Hook, Bryony Corrigan as a feisty and possibly too knowing Wendy, and Sydney Smith as John, who’s such a bad actor his lines are fed to him via headset — well, no good was ever going to come of that.
A huge bravo also to Mischief Theatre newcomer Adeline Waby whose multi-role turn as Mrs Darling, Tinker Bell, Tiger Lily and the servant Lisa is as exhausting to watch as it must be to play.
Incidentally, if you’re one of those people who poses in the bar until two minutes before curtain up, you’ll be missing a treat as the chaos starts around 20 minutes early with the equally incompetent crew setting the stage.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue until 29 January and will be shown on BBC1 at Christmas