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The Play that Goes Wrong

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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There's nothing wrong with The Play that Goes Wrong, which has transferred to Trafalgar Studios following its run at the Old Red Lion. This is effortless slapstick that Keaton and Chaplin would have been hard pushed to trump.

Transferred from the Red Lion Theatre, Mischief theatre employ the physical eye of Lecoq trained director Mark Bell who ensures the timing of the play is spot on and the prat falls, knockouts and absurdity of the whole thing stays believable. He maintains a tight ensemble that bodes well in the cramped setting of Studio 2 (they even won over a couple of dumbfounded tourists who were expecting to watch Simon Russell Beale upstairs...)

So, The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and its sanctimonious Head of Drama decide to stage the 1920’s murder mystery Murder at Haversham Manor to disastrous ends. Despite the diligent preparation of the stage manager and lighting operator in the final countdown to opening night, everything that can possibly go wrong, goes wrong.

When everything fails around them the actors veer into an existential nightmare - props fall but are held up precariously by contorted actors who courageously continue to speak their lines, the play goes into a Momentum-style loop when the butler repeatedly repeats a line, and the whisky, the one saving grace for such a series of mishaps - turns out to be turps.

The real actors are impeccably cast, and despite their hopelessly untalented counterparts, we're won over by their unstoppable determination to get to the end of scenes, make sense of the play and overcome the catastrophic production they're trapped inside. The expressions of utter dismay, the knowing side glances to the audience, and the sheer tomfoolery of it all make for a painfully funny evening.

- Bertold Wiesner


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