Several years ago, James 1 asked me if I wanted to go and see a play he’d got last minute tickets to at the Red Lion Theatre in Angel. They were free, so off I went.
As far as theatres go, The Red Lion is a very little one, really just an attic room above a pub with a delapidated old staircase, a few benches and a musty smell. The play we saw was about an amateur theatre group hopelessly trying to put on an old-fashioned whodunnit and we were rolling in the aisles. Or would have been, had there been any aisles. In reality I just sat on my bench and laughed so hard I thought I’d be asked to leave. Even James 2, who is generally more chuckler than hysterical fanny (i.e. me), had tears in his eyes.
A couple of years later and we have become inadvertent trendsetters of the London theatre scene. Mischief Theatre, the brains behind The Play That Goes Wrong, is smashing the West End in three different places: the original is at the Duchess; The Comedy About A Bank Robbery has been at the Criterion since April; and the Christmas edition, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, has just reopened at the Apollo. Working on the same premise as the others, in which everything that can go wrong does go wrong, Peter Pan is a gleeful riff on the traditional Christmas panto that I imagine proper theatre critics probably describe as a ‘romp’. The humour is very Fawlty Towers – that wonderful brand of ludicrous British slapstick that baffles foreigners but wildly amuses even middle-aged men up and down the country. (Note: if you’re not a fan of good old-fashioned British comedy, like Blackadder, you will hate it.)
If you’re in charge of little people and looking for a less torturous festive activity than Cinderella at the Palladium (which this year stars the breathtakingly talentless Amanda Holden, who presumably is short on rent), I would highly recommend it. Its polished preposterousness strikes that magical balance between silly and sophisticated, and the well-behaved eight-year-old sitting next to me was giggling like an idiot, so assuming your offspring is not chronically joyless or an American, they’ll love it.
Tickets range from £15-£52.50, but there are a limited number of top price tickets between £20 and £30 going in November if you get in quick. You can also keep an eye on Get Into London Theatre, which has just announced its tickets will go on sale on December 6th. Whack that date in your Filofax because a) top price tickets to over 40 shows are going for up to half price and b) it sells out very quickly. Either way, get your hands on some tickets – there’s a reason they’re not playing in tiny little pub theatres any more.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong, 31 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7EZ
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.