The Play that Goes Wrong Review Image

The Play that Goes Wrong Review

Written by Estelle Ross

May 31, 2023

If you're looking for an evening of nonstop laughter, look no further than The Play That Goes Wrong, which is now playing at the Duchess Theatre in London's West End. This Olivier Award-winning show promises a wild trip full of timeless humour.

The Play That Goes Wrong was written by the outstanding Mischief Theatre team of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields and is inspired by Michael Green's 1964 book, The Art of Coarse Acting, as well as comic luminaries Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Mr. Bean. The popularity of the play is evidenced by its awards, which include the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design.

The Play That Goes Wrong debuted in 2012 in the tiny setting above the Old Red Lion Pub in Islington, directed by Mark Bell. With only four audience members in its first performance, this jewel of a play has since matured and flourished, becoming one of the West End's most popular comedies and enthralling audiences worldwide.

The plot centres around the fictional Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society's disastrous effort to recreate "The Murder at Haversham Manor." Everything that can possibly go wrong does go wrong, resulting in a cascade of misfortunes that leave the actors scrambling to keep the production afloat in this funny play-within-a-play.

While the plot is comparable to Michael Frayn's hilarious comedy 'Noises Off,' which similarly takes place at a theatre and explores the progressive breakdown of a production, Mischief Theatre really owns this notion. The play's marketing smartly describes it as a cross between 'Noises Off' and 'Faulty Towers.'

Audience members are treated to a funny pre-show comedy with a bumbling stage manager, wonderfully acted by Annie Twillhall, and a frustrated sound operator, played with great enjoyment by Trevor Watson, from the time they take their seats. Nigel Hook's set masterfully recreates the manor house's somewhat shabby oak-panelled drawing room, complete with a green leather chaise longue, thick red velvet drapes, a grandfather clock, and a mezzanine library. The atmosphere is well complemented by Roberto Surace's 1920s outfits.

The superb execution of physical humour is what actually distinguishes this piece. The skilled cast provides perfectly timed mishaps, unforeseen accidents, and a seemingly never-ending sequence of calamities that keep the actors on their toes. From malfunctioning props and collapsing set pieces to missed cues and flubbed lines, each moment is meticulously arranged to ensure the audience's laughter throughout the whole act.

Most of the ensemble is making their West End debut, and they have grabbed the chance, generating excellent chemistry, incredible comic timing, and fully immersing themselves in their roles. Each person is essential to the success of The Play That Goes Wrong. Ross Virgo shines as Max and Cecil Haversham, relishing the audience's attention and delivering brilliant slapstick; Rolan Bell brings joy to the stage as Robert and Thomas Colleymoore; Lucy Doyle delights as Sandra, making the most of her role as Florence Colleymoore; Daniel Cech-Lucas convincingly portrays both Inspector Carter and the Director; and Luke Dayhill delivers a lovely performance as

The Play That Goes Wrong is a joy and a must-see for comedy fans. Up until the last curtain, it provides an evening of sheer pleasure and laughter. Whether you're a seasoned theatregoer or a novice.

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