The Play That Goes Wrong

15_1_lAt first when the lady in pigtails and dungarees approached me in the bar, asking if I had seen a dog running around, I genuinely thought she was serious. When she returned saying she needed the chair I was sitting on for the show, I realised it was all part of the act. Sure enough, the chair I had been sipping wine from was centre stage in the production. Once inside the auditorium things seemed just as absurd. An audience member was ushered out of her seat and on to the stage with a piece of wood found under her seat. Another woman was brought up to the stage to sweep the floor with a rather unstable broom.

Mischief Theatre’s production of The Play That Goes Wrong is a total farse. If you imagine Noises Off combined with Fawlty Towers you’ll pretty much hit the nail on the head with this show. Originally staged at London’s Old Red Lion Theatre, the show was such a success it soon transferred to the Trafalgar Studios. Now it has taken its place in the heart of the West End at the Duchess Theatre.

When the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempt to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery ‘The Murder at Haversham Mannor’, they are doomed from the beginning. The announcement at the start of the show, by the director, makes it clear their small town is thin on the ground when it comes to good actors (or any actors for that matter). Their previous productions included ‘Cat’ and Chekov’s classic ‘Two Sisters’, demonstrating how much they have had to improvise over the years to make do with their small numbers.

The stand out performer in this show is Dave Hearn, who plays the hilariously simple Max Bennett, who looks at the audience in appreciation every time his performance provokes a laugh. Nancy Wallinger plays the nervous and confused Annie Twilloil well, thrown into the role of Sandra when the actress has an accident and can no longer perform. Not knowing what she is supposed to be doing she fumbles her way through the performance.

The Play That Goes Wrong will have you laughing almost the entire time. I didn’t quite feel we got to know each character as well as we could have, as the play seemed to focus on causing as much havoc as possible without a very strong storyline. It would have been nice to see a little more depth to the production. It will be interesting to see how Mischeif Theatre’s new production ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ does when it plays at Guilford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre this November.

Reviewed by West End Wilma

The Play That Goes Wrong is playing at the Duchess Theatre until 1 February 2015. Click here for tickets.