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Posts Tagged ‘matt cavendish’

Anything from the Mischief Theatre Company is worth watching, and after this got postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I was really looking forward to finally getting to see it (and finally getting back to Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre, which is one of my favourite places).

If you’re familiar with the Mischief Company’s work, you’ll know that the usually play a group of amateur actors who stage plays that go disastrously wrong, and they have had huge success. A few years ago they wrote a straightforward comedy (The Play About A Bank Robbery) which was extremely funny. Groan Ups has all the laughs and gags you would expect, but there is a surprising tenderness and poignancy in it as well.

We first meet the main cast of five as a group of six year olds at school together, and we can see their early personalities which become more developed as they get older. There’s the precocious, spoiled Moon (played by Yolande Ovid), who spends more time with her au pair than her parents. There’s sensitive Archie (Daniel Abbott), the new boy in the class. Katie (Lauren Samuels) is a worrier and a hard worker. Spencer (Dharmesh Patel) is the popular lad who is not exactly academic. And Simon (Matt Cavendish) is the object of their teasing (and sometimes out and out bullying). After the first part where each child describes their weekend and naively talks about things their parents have done or said without understanding the adult implications of such words and actions, we next meet them as teenagers, where we can see deeper friendships having formed, crushes develop and their adult futures loom. In the final stage of the play they are adults who have left school, but return to the building for a reunion.

There’s a lovely running physical comedy gag about the school hamster, and a fabulous turn from Jamie Birkett as Chemise, the lady who Simon brings to the reunion. The small cast was rounded out by Paul Brown, who played another former schoolboy at the reunion. (Brown was understudy to Killian Macardle).

The sets were fantastic – all set in one classroom, but in teh first part, the doors and furniture were huge, helping to give the impression that the cast were little children. By the time they return for the reunion, the furniture is child sized.

I loved the show; it was so clever, so funny and very sweet. Everyone in the audience seemed to be having a great time and laughing a lot! The whole cast was great and I highly recommend going to see this if you get chance.

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Nobody can claim that the title of this play didn’t let them know what to expect!  From the fabulously talented people at the Mischief Theatre Company, and following the success of their genuinely hilarious The Play That Goes Wrong (which is still currently showing at the Duchess Theatre in London, and which won a Ticketmaster Award for Best New Comedy), comes Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

The good people at Cornley Polytechnic Amateur Dramatic Society are staging a “traditional Christmas vignette” (it’s NOT a pantomime, as Chris Bean (played in real life by Laurence Pears) who takes on the roles of Mr Darling and Captain Hook) irritably informs the audience – who naturally respond with “Oh yes it is!”

However, nothing goes right – from scenery that breaks or malfunctions, to one character forgetting his lines and needing an earpiece which picks up local radio, to characters getting their lines mixed up, the play is doomed to failure from the beginning.  But never has getting something wrong felt so right, or been so funny (well, except for in The Play That Goes Wrong obviously).

There were laughs from start to finish, and the whole thing was so cleverly written and put together that it’s easy to forget just how talented the writers and performers in this production have to be to put this together, and to make it look spontaneous.  (It must be incredibly hard to deliberately get so much so wrong).  Leonie Hill played main actress Sandra, who in turn played Wendy Darling, complete with with dramatic and hammy over-acting, while Naomi Sheldon played Annie Twilloil, who had the taxing job of playing four different characters throughout the play.  Alex Bartram played the egotistical Jonathan Harris, who took the part of Peter Pan himself, while sweet Max Bennett (playing the crocodile and Nana the dog) was ably played by Matt Cavendish, and certainly got the audience rooting for him!  The cast was rounded out by Cornelius Booth playing Cornley’s oldest member Robert Grove, who by some misfortune or other has ended up in the part of one of the Darling brothers – complete with bald head and bushy beard; James Marlowe as Dennis Tyde, who needed the aforementioned earpiece; Chris Leask as hapless sound engineer and impromptu Peter Pan Trevor Watson; Harry Kershaw as Francis Beaumont, who took on the dual roles of Smee the Pirate, and the narrator of the whole sorry affair; and Rosie Graham as young Lucy Grove, who was a stuttering – and eventually wheelchair bound – Tootles.  Each and every cast member was terrific – there really was not a weak link among them.

The stage was a revolving set, which naturally would not stop revolving when it was supposed to, and which provided for an uproariously funny, chaotic ending, which must have taken some real working out.  The audience were in stitches throughout, and any fears that I had had that I might be disappointed in Peter Pan Goes Wrong after the sheer hilarity of The Play That Goes Wrong, were soon dispelled.

Suffice to say that Mischief Theatre Company have got a fan for life, and I will definitely be going to see anything that they put on in future.  If you need a good belly laugh, get yourself along to one of their shows – you won’t be disappointed!

(For more information about Mischief Theatre Company, or Peter Pan Goes Wrong, please click here.)

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