The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre

The Play That Goes Wrong
Duchess Theatre, London

5 / 5

“Two hours of unadulterated mischief, mishaps and madness”

Starring: Hayden Wood, Adam Byron, Drew Dillon, Daniel Millar, April Hughes, Joanne Ferguson, Fred Gray and Oliver Llewellyn-Jenkins.
Plot Summary: The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on a 1920s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does!  The accident-prone thespians battle against all odds to make it through to their final curtain call, with hilarious consequences! 

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Although it may be titled The Play That Goes Wrong, it is most certainly a play that gets it so right. To perform a play where mistakes have to be made deliberately could have been tricky to make it seem natural, but the cast pull it off to perfection. Everything that can go wrong, it seems, does go wrong for this play, its players and particularly its flimsy and precariously fragile set. But the more it does, of course, the funnier it becomes. It’s divinely daft, gloriously preposterous and utterly silly. 

I have seen quite a few local comedies/farces which I thought were quite good at the time, eliciting laughs and chuckles, however, nothing compares to the belly-ache laughs and snorts that were extracted effortlessly from me throughout this incredible play. This is undoubtedly the best comedy I have ever seen at the theatre! It has had such an effect on me that I have been quoting Chris Bean’s opening, intermission and concluding monologues to people whenever I talk about this play.

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The Murder at Haversham Manor is the facade in which the play plays out, the wealthy Lord Haversham has been ‘murdered’ and when the Detective arrives, an investigation begins in order to discover the culprit. Everyone present is a potential suspect, and when a snowstorm rages on outside, they are forced to remain at Haversham Manor where the Detective takes steps to find out who the murderer is.

The unrelenting energy of the cast is intoxicating to witness, and the unambiguously caricatured comedy performances of the cast blend together to present hilarious situations which are the result of the cast’s impeccable acting skills. This ensemble of young actors are terrific, their spot on timing and daring physical energy made for a joyful watch. The stage mechanics were expertly choreographed and controlled, and the set design was just out and out brilliant. At one moment the stage manager complains that “This set is a bloody deathtrap.” This line not only brought rapturous laughter and applause from the knowing audience, but it is also a main theme in this ‘failed’ production as the cast centre a lot of the jokes around the crumbling set which starts falling apart before the play begins!

Two hours of unadulterated mischief, mishaps and madness later, I reluctantly leave my seat, my sides well and truly split, and I begin my walk back with a permanent smile etched on my face as I replay the hilarious scenes back in my head. The entire cast were exemplary, and after talking so lavishly about it, I may be returning to see it with my parents who love a good theatre comedy.

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