‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ is considered one of the best comedy plays of the last decade. The play in question skyrocketed Mischief Theatre to one of the UK’s biggest and most acclaimed theatre producers. ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’, follows Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s (eventful) production of Murder at Haversham Manor. A classic murder mystery. However, things don’t go exactly to plan…
Covid-19 precautions have stopped the pre-show checks (lead by the farcical group of “technicians”), heading into the audience. Fear not, as the hysterical antics continue in the dress boxes and also on stage. Fully immersing the audience in the amateur world of Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, even before the performance has begun!
This is truly an ensemble lead production. The cast provides versatile, complex and utterly hysterical performances. Tom Babbage as Max delivers high energy, gleeful engagement with the audience and utterly ridiculous physical presence. Tom Bulpett is brilliant as the frosty director, Chris. His deadpan addresses to the audience and delirious gestures to the cast prompt stupendous amounts of laughter, right through the auditorium. Seán Carey gives a great supporting performance as Jonathan, delivering most of the hilarity at extremely random moments. Leonard Cook as Robert gives what could be considered the funniest portrayal of the lot. Leonard’s ingenious balance between intimate and over the top delivery is what makes for perfect comedic versatility, it’s a joyous performance to watch.
Edward Howells’ performance of the forgetful and ditsy Dennis is another piece of comedy gold. April Hughes perfects the stereotypical amateur theatre diva in the form of Sandra. Laura Kinman as Annie literally has everything thrown at her and she manages to capture the chaos and the hysterical recovery perfectly. Gabriel Paul is by far the audience’s favourite as Trevor. The cool sound technician has the audience in the palm of his hand, even if he’s just eating a banana and checking his phone. This is a subtle yet absolutely hilarious supporting performance.
This production is a tech-heavy show, that relies heavily on its complex set, designed by Nigel Hook. Without Nigel’s utterly astonishing set, the script would not be the success it is. The farcical goings-on is well and truly based around the catastrophes that surround the scripted technical faults.
The writers of this play, Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, along with the director, Mark Bell, have conquered the UK and perhaps the world’s theatre comedy industry with this play. The nods to theatre tropes and productions are what makes this show so popular with people in the theatre industry. The humour featured is undoubtedly very clever, and really embrace physical comedy, as well as comedy in the dialogue. However, there are points where if an actor misses their mark, or the delivery is under energized, the gag falls flat. Repetitious gags that lose energy are the biggest culprit of diluting the laughter in the auditorium. However, this is still one of the funniest theatre productions out there.
‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ is an absolute riot, that is a tonic to watch. This is the epitome of what live theatre is and something that TV (sorry ‘The Goes Wrong Show’) cannot replicate. With set/lighting/music malfunctions, performers nearly dying, fantastic physical comedy and a missing Duran Duran CD, this is ridiculous humour at its best.
Get tickets for ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ at the Edinburgh Kings Theatre below: