Goes Wrong veterans will know to occupy their seats well before curtain up to experience the pre-show madness. Goes Wrong virgins should heed this tip.
The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are at it again putting the corn in Cornley and the Polly in Polytechnic (there is a parrot) in a seasonal offering with a much bigger budget and with more spectacularly disastrous results.
Simon Scullion’s revolving set is a thing of technical brilliance and characteristically goes wrong throughout. Flying is involved, not the seamless Flying by Foy flying, more flying by the seat of your pants. The cast crash into the scenery at every available opportunity.
But it’s the unexpected, even dafter gags that are best. Phil was particularly taken with one involving a toy train and a bottle of medicine and another involving some wizardry with the Darling children’s bed. Henry Shields playing Chris Bean playing Mr Darling (looking like a young John Cleese) gets a deliciously silly hook gag even before he channels Mark Gatiss and becomes Captain Hook. Mrs Darling and the Darling family maid, Lisa are doubled by Nancy Wallinger giving rise to some brilliantly fast and funny costume changes. Later she’s a terrific bad-ass Tinkerbell whilst (of course) wired up to the mains supply.
Adam Meggido‘s frenetically bonkers production might be the bastard child of Noises Off and One Man, Two Guvnors with its show-going-wrong slapstick on a revolve (the former) and slapstick and revolve-going-wrong (the latter). Tom Edden (brilliant in OM,TG as the waiter) tries to narrate despite his malfunctioning chair. One extended sequence involving said chair, is deliberately stretched beyond what might be considered reasonable endurance.
Cornley Poly alumnus, Max Bennet (Dave Hearn), is as pleased to be on a stage again as he was in TPTGW (a gag that never wears thin) and doubles as Michael Darling and the crocodile wheeling around on a trolley which would probably be a Swegway Hoverboard if they could stretch to one.
The cast try to upstage each other, egos come to the fore and ineptitude rules. Peter Pan isn’t the only one who won’t grow up. Amateurishness hasn’t seemed this professional since Acorn Antiques. If you liked TPTGW you’ll love this even more. The Saturday matinee Phil attended was a full house. If Mischief Theatre don’t revive this every Christmas then something really has gone wrong.
The play’s posters may claim it’s not a pantomime, but some of the funniest moments are when the cast desperately try to stop the audience engaging in shout-outs and risk turning it into one.
The franchise is so successful there’s a ‘straight’ comedy The Comedy About A Bank Robbery with the same cast and team coming to the Criterion Theatre in March which is plugged shamelessly at the curtain call. Now that really did seem like a panto.
In keeping with the tone of the piece we really should give them a zero rating. But we just can’t quite do that.