As Mischief Theatre returns to our screens with a new Christmas special, Emma Clarendon re-watched their previous festive specials – which are now available to watch and download through various streaming services.
In a year that has proved so gloomy for everybody, Mischief Theatre are back to give us all a much needed boost by releasing this double helping of hilarity.
This double bill of comedy begins with The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempting to recreate J.M. Barrie’s classic story Peter Pan – but of course not everything goes exactly according to plan.
What makes Peter Pan Goes Wrong such a delight to watch (no matter how many times you have seen it) is the way it combines physical comedy, word play and much more besides all wrapped into one – keeping the audience guessing from start to finish. From bunk beds collapsing, numerous health and safety defying incidents that take out numerous cast members to a revolving stage that doesn’t behave in the finale – everything that could go wrong does in spectacular ways.
The cast literally all throw themselves into each scene and work so well together that everything looks so natural and not at all rehearsed – which I’m sure it was done thoroughly. Every detail is so brilliant, every split second is an opportunity for a new joke that there is plenty of surprises along the way.
I also loved the way in which David Suchet as the narrator gets involved and is alternatively frustrated and worried at the way things are unfolding. He blends in so well with the rest of the cast – it feels like he is a fully fledged member of the company. It is a really brilliant and polished production that keeps the laughter coming non stop.
In contrast to this, A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong sees a slightly different side to all of the cast – with even some serious acting coming into play. The story itself is not one that lends itself easily to comedy and so Mischief Theatre have to rely on much more of the physical comedy to make it work – which it does to an extent but it does feel slightly more constrained in comparison to the joyful chaos of Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
This being said, it shows a company that are brave and bold enough to experiment with their brand of comedy and try and push boundaries with it. In this production – I loved all the unexpected asides and video tapes of the cast backstage that give another dimension to proceedings.
To say anymore about what happens in both would ruin the numerous surprises – but to say that it is an absolute delight to be able to watch both in the comfort of our home and add some much needed joy to our lives.
By Emma Clarendon