Friday, November 23, 2018

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Last year, we went to see The Play That Goes Wrong. We enjoyed it immensely, so when it was announced that Peter Pan Goes Wrong would be coming to Wellington, we booked it straight away. A play which often involves people flying about the stage on wires? What could possibly go wrong with that?

First, dinner, and I’ve been pestered by various websites to which I subscribe, to try the new restaurant, Spring Kitchen, in Wellington’s new Hilton hotel. This is on a landmark site, in what used to be known as the Harcourts building or T&G building. This building has been quite troublesome for the owner, as it’s a heritage building so couldn’t be bulldozed, as he wanted. Following the Seddon earthquake of 2013, the building was assessed for earthquake safety and found wanting. It was abandoned by its former tenants – various government agencies – and stood empty for a long while, until the agreement with Hilton which included strengthening and refurbishment. The restaurant, Spring Kitchen, is a modern Indian fusion restaurant, of the style championed by Chetan Pangam at 180° restaurant in the Copthorne on Oriental Parade for many years now. I had a chilli tandoori salmon followed by a steak with masala kale and mash; while Nicola had the mushroom cappuccino followed by tandoori chicken cannelloni. You get the idea. It was good, but if we hadn’t been on a special offer I don’t think I’d have paid those prices.

Down the road, then, to the Opera House, and we took our seats for the performance. We were taking bets on what would be the first thing to go wrong…this turned out to be an electrical explosion when the narrator was exiting the stage after the introduction. The play follows a fairly predictable format: things start to go wrong with the set almost immediately, and the cast start to improvise to get around the problems. SPOILER ALERT: Peter Darling attempts to hang his jacket on a coat hook on the door, only to find that it’s not real, but painted on. The electrical set which revolves, and the fireworks used for special effects, are particularly problematical, as are the props, sound effects and recordings used during the performance…the spoon causes particular issues.


As the play progresses, things get worse: one of the actors, the daughter of the director, is chronically stage-shy, but is forced on anyway. She ends up with a broken leg after a piece of scenery falls on her, but returns from hospital in the second act with a cast on, only to suffer further calamities, eventually finishing the play in a wheelchair. With hilarious consequences! When Tinkerbell is accidentally electrocuted, the cast immediately look for the first-aider, who, it turns out, is…Tinkerbell. With the set falling apart around them, and the revelation of off-stage shenanigans between the principal actors, the script gets shoved aside as various scores are settled. The speed setting on the revolving set breaks down, and the actors are whirled around at increasing speed, jumping from set to set to try and stay on stage.

Eventually, the set stops revolving and a conclusion is reached. There’s a full-cast rousing all-singing  dance number at the end, and it’s all over. We laughed so much our faces ached! Looking forward to next year’s offering – a brief shufti at their website would appear to indicate that The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is the next cab off the rank.

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