THE great Dolly Parton famously said: “You’d be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap!” Similarly, it takes incredible skill (and courage) to look as utterly incompetent as the Cornley Polytechnic dramatic society in their various productions..
So it’s hardly surprising that Peter Pan goes wrong when the amateur actors and their long-suffering stage crew tackle the story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up and gave the world the saying, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.”
To get on stage with this crazy bunch of energetic nincompoops IS an awfully big adventure. Even sitting safely in the stalls, it feels like an adventure … into sheer dazzling stagecraft.
Pratfalls, collapsing scenery and split-second, almost death-defying, timing are their staples, and here Mischief Theatre are totally on top of their game.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at Bath Theatre Royal – a perfect setting for this not-quite-a-pantomime – all this week, with several matinees. And since that spells audience demand, I am happy to report that the success is well deserved and that nobody should go away disappointed.
The laughs start almost instantly – surely a mark of returning fans – and keep going until the achingly funny, whirligig finale.
How on earth does Georgia Bradley (Tootles) dance on crutches? How does Phoebe Ellabani keep up the pace as she changes costume for Mrs Darling, Lisa the maid, Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell, each character more energetic than the last? How does Oliver Senton survive the doors crashing into him from all sides without getting hurt? And how do the Darling boys (Tom Babbage and Romayne Andrews) not get squashed in the bedroom scene?
It’s all down to that split-second timing and incredible tumbling, dancing, flying skill. Christian James, standing in for Ciaran Kellgren as Peter Pan, was in the air more than on the ground, each soaring flight turning into a Catherine wheel of movement that brought gasps from the audience – as did Ethan Moorhouse as Trevor. (You didn’t know Trevor as a character in Peter Pan – go and see the show!)
There are a limited number of tickets still available – it is the perfect antidote to the weather and Brexit and the election and all the other current horrors!
Pictured: All at sea as the pirate ship, under the evil Captain Hook (Connor Crawford), rocks and rolls: Phoebe Ellabani, Oliver Senton and Romayne Andrews (as Dennis); photographs by Alastair Muir.