REVIEW: The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess Theatre)

The-Play-that-Goes-Wrong--014The Play That Goes Wrong debuted at the Duchess Theatre in London’s West End in September 2014 and has been cracking up audiences ever since.

The winner of Best New Comedy in the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards, it’s the brain child Mark Bell, with the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s very physical attempt at a 1920s murder mystery.

Just imagine how many things can possibly go wrong in a performance.  AV and lighting miscues, forgotten lines, actors having an episode, props missing, set collapsing.  Any and every one of these can go wrong in any production and The Play That Goes Wrong showcases it so well.

The performance begins from the moment you enter the theatre.  As people are still shuffling in and finding their seats, the curtain is raised. The set is being “repaired” by Stage Manager played by Annie Twilloil and her trusty lighting and sound operator ‘Trevor’.  The steely opening Directors monologue performed by Chris Bean immediately sets the tone for the evening.

The storyline is loose but entertaining.  Inspector Carter (Bean) conducts an investigation at the Haversham Manor after the muuuurderrrrr of Charles Haversham (Harris).  Everyone’s a suspect in this hilarious whodunnit.

A series of comical events unfold as Inspector Carter rummages through the somewhat questionable evidence to establish a motive and discover the true killer.  Simple props such as a notepad and pen turn into one giggle after another in this slapstick hit.  The set is expanded to include the blacks and behind the backing flat, to add an extra element of entertainment as fight scenes continue offstage.

The young cast holds their own on stage and I’m happy to say no one is outshone by another as the set collapses around them and the production transcends into chaos.

Leave your highbrow theatrical opinions at home for this very light hearted satirical production and enjoy the laugh a minute humour.

Reviewed by Roma Small

Photo: Alastair Muir