PETER PAN GOES WRONG - Shut up and Laugh
Yes, it's stupid. Yes, it's slapstick. Yes, it's predictable. And, as a nod to the pinch-faced and unhappy, it's derivative of its predecessor, The Play That Goes Wrong.
Doesn't matter. It's funny.
Like it's previous entry, The Play That Goes Wrong, laughs start before curtain, of which there will not be one. The stagehands interrupt the somewhat late seaters by walking through the rows looking for a hammer; one technician continually shorts out a light on stage; and an argument ensues regarding the flying rig, which is a foreshadowing of the predictable predicaments to come.
The ridiculousness begins immediately at the home of the Darlings. Dr. John Darling does not recognize his wife and maid are played by the same actress in a different dress; the family canine gets caught in the dog door for most of the scene; and one of the Darling boys is such a terrible actor, he needs a prompter in his ear to deliver his lines . . . and stage directions, which he gladly shares with the audience.
This eventually leads to bedtime, and the nearly fatal entrance of Peter Pan, who, like a bird flying into a newly cleaned window, the titular character smashes into the Darling children's bedroom opening, which has been closed by an errant stage hand.
Peter recovers and convinces the three Darling children to fly away with him to Never Never Land. Before arriving in this magical kingdom, they take down Big Ben . . . all four sides.
Won't belabor the gags in the second act. In the more than capable hands of the Original Mischief Comedy Company, they are as brilliant and laugh-inducing as the first act. A particular favorite was Captain Hook's attempt to remove a cork from a liquor bottle. Yes, using only his hook.
Neil Patrick Harris graced the stage for the performance. Not necessary to have a TV star on stage for anything save ticket sales. He was just fine, but anyone with a knack for deadpan slapstick would do.
Americans have forgotten how to laugh. At least they had for the past couple decades. It's the lack of confidence to find something funny as it might be offensive to someone. The Play Goes Wrong ain't intellectual. It's not cerebral. It's physical, stupid comedy performed with such aplomb that if you don't laugh all the way through, you've come to another public forum jonesing to find something about which to complain.
The good news is that particular gestalt might be in our rearview mirror. Bill Burr, Dave Chapelle, and Ricky Gervais are ignoring the woke idiots and performing their acts without a care of who might be offended. Stand-up is making a return. Streaming is assisting. Hollywood and Broadway might want to pay careful attention and stop giving us politically-correct comedy that only takes down old White guys. To quote Kramer from Seinfeld, "That's so played."
Peter Pan Goes Wrong runs through July 9th. The Barrymore Theater.