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The Play That Goes Wrong

Published 12 September 2014

What’s it all about?

Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is attempting to pull off its latest production, the thrilling Murder At Haversham Manor, without a hitch. Unfortunately from the moment you enter the theatre and encounter two panicked stage hands searching for a lost dog right to its ramshackle, bloody and dysfunctional conclusion, everything that can possibly go wrong does, in fact, go wrong. Spectacularly so. Explosively so. Downright bloody hilariously so.

Who’s in it?

This small budget fringe to West End success story stars eight young LAMDA graduates under the direction of their former teacher Mark Bell. This may be their West End playhouse debuts, but they not only successfully pull off an evening of perfectly choreographed, chaotic farce but they do so with aplomb; funny bone-aching, potential asthma attack-inducing, hysteria-tickling aplomb.

The show’s writer Henry Shields opens proceedings in the role of the am-dram group’s director with a deadpan stand-up routine that sets the tone of deadly serious pretension and ideas of grandeur that run throughout the company of brilliantly inept – fictionally speaking of course – actors.

Hamming it up to the max, Henry Lewis’ Robert Grove graduates from the Brian Blessed school of acting with a boomy voiced first class degree, Rob Falconer plays the Duran Duran-loving techy Trevor with stoney faced indifference, while an endearingly ramshackle Nancy Wallinger and gloriously pouty Charlie Russell fight it out for the role of the oversexed leading lady. For me, however, David Hearn steals the show as village idiot Max Bennett, who takes a leaf from Primary School children everywhere to wave, clap or bow at the audience every chance he can get.

What should I look out for?

The things you can see coming from a mile off and the things you can’t.

In the first camp is a Fawlty Towers-inspired line-up of classic comedy gems, from mispronounced words – façade becomes something far filthier – to running jokes that take longer to die than an am-dram production’s murder victim.

In the latter are a bombardment of surrealist, absurdist and downright silly moments that unfold quicker than you can say “Look out for that loose floorboard, it’s going to hit you in the face. Again.”

In a nutshell?

The Play That Goes Wrong gets it totally, brilliantly, ridiculously right.

What’s being said on Twitter?

‏@composerjames Just emerged from The Play That Goes Wrong – thoroughly enjoyable, plenty of real belly laugh moments!!!

@KerryPoppins Had a wonderful evening watching @mischiefcomedy perform ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’. Definitely ‘having an episode’. #GOODGODINEEDEDTHAT

Will I like it?

If silly is your thing, then yes. Noises Off your bag? Then yes. Had a bad day at the office, yes! In the mood for a dark, brooding exploration of existential despair? Er… maybe give it a miss.

The Play That Goes Wrong is booking at the Duchess Theatre until 1 February. You can book tickets through us here.

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