REVIEW: The Play That Goes Wrong – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Cast the play that goes wrong mischief theatre theatre Royal Glasgow

A lot has changed in the few short years since the first national tour of Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong. The award-winning theatre company has catapulted itself from the room upstairs at the Old Red Lion Pub Theatre to Olivier Award-winning success, has two productions currently running in the West End and an opening this week on Broadway, is riding high on the recent success of the BBC’s festive production of Peter Pan Goes Wrong and has single-handedly managed to bring the great British tradition of farce back to the fore.

But the question is, does the show that started it all stand up to repeat viewing? In a word – yes.
For those who don’t know, Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is endeavouring to stage 1920s mystery thriller, The Murder at Haversham Manor, but a lack of talent, finance and sheer common sense makes for theatrical mayhem. Needless to say, everything that can go wrong, does, and the more the mayhem, the bigger the laughs.

Clearly influenced by Michael Frayn’s Noises Off, it’s theatre people sending up theatre people and exploiting every cliche there is about the am-dram world, and while it may not exactly be original or sophisticated, boy they do it well. The sheer cleverness of the writing of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, and the split-second timing of this new cast ensures that Mischief Theatre’s smash-hit remains a rib-tickler.

The humour in the first act is relentless, at times it’s impossible to catch every gag, and it is genuinely tear-inducing, however, the production’s original faults remain, the second act lags a little, either down to audience fatigue at the number of jokes that have assaulted your senses and/or the fact the original production ran for a tidy one hour instead of the current two hours ten minutes. One can’t help feel a little judicious trimming would make this near-perfect show truly faultless. That said, any faults are easily forgiven due to the sheer entertainment value of the whole production. Just remember to wear waterproof mascara.

This review was originally written for and published by The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Peter Pan Goes Wrong – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Mischief Theatre are doubtlessly flying high after their Olivier Award win at the weekend for The Play That Goes Wrong (the first in their now expanding ‘Goes Wrong’ series). The latest outing for the band of horrors they have created, The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, is in a production of J.M. Barrie’s beloved Peter Pan: “it’s not a pantomime,” bellows Captain Hook at an audience more than willing to roar “it’s behind you”, “it’s a Christmas vignette” (in April). As it turns out it’s a series of uproarious vignette’s filled with mischief, madness and mayhem.

There seems to be a tad less falling scenery in Peter Pan Goes Wrong than its predecessor, but all the familiar elements are here, as well as every cliché of the Am-Dram circuit: props go awry, the set malfunctions, the sound effects are way off cue and wide of the mark, inappropriate songs and choreography are shoe-horned into the plot and there are stage hands who make more appearances on stage than some of the actors.

To pull off being this bad, the writing and the cast must be exceptional – and thankfully both are. Henry Shields, Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer have once again managed to retain all the classic elements of Barrie’s classic work, enough to keep the story flowing amid all the madness and their cast are, to a man, practically faultless. From little Michael Darling, played with an enormous grey bushy beard by (very) mature student Robert Grove (Cornelius Booth), through a Wendy (Leonie Hill) who seems to be under the impression she’s in either the X-Factor or an R&B video with her highly inappropriate ‘moves’, the tightly wound director and Captain Hook (Laurence Pears) who is losing his scant grip on affairs as each moment passes, to the multi-tasking Annie Twilloil (Naomi Sheldon), who has to quick change, with varying degrees of success, from Mrs. Darling, The Maid, Tinker Bell, Tiger Lily to a pirate, the actors are throughout, impeccable.

There is a degree of predictability about the whole thing for those who have seen The Play That Goes Wrong but there’s still more than enough to keep you laughing out loud throughout. The scene where Nana the canine nurse maid gets stuck in the dog flap and has to be liberated by a stage hand with a chainsaw and more than an eyeful of builder’s bum is one mascara-busting,tears rolling down your face, highlight among an evening of belly-laughs.

If it’s a spring pick me up you’re looking for then look no further than Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

Runs until Sat 18 April 2015 then touring.

This article was originally written for and published  by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/peter-pan-goes-wrong-theatre-royal-glasgow/