The Play That Goes Wrong is on Broadway, in its fourth year at the West End and touring the UK. The play won Best New Comedy at the Olivier Awards and also Whatsonstage Awards. Mischief Theatre Company do a fine job of delivering this exceptionally funny piece of theatre at the Lyceum Theatre as part of their UK tour.
If you hadn’t already guessed from the title, the play is about a theatre company, Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, putting on the best/worst amateur dramatics production you will ever see. The mayhem that you are about to watch is potentially going to be the biggest intentional mess you have ever witnessed…slapstick and madness are key to this production. The drama society have not had many successful productions previously and it seems as though this production of ‘Murder at Haversham Hall’ is not much different to their other failed attempts. We see poorly made sets that have all collapsed by the end of the show, props in the wrong place/missing, lines forgotten and the prompt missing when lines needed, missed cues and sound and lighting delays. It is just the perfect disaster.
The cast work super hard on this production, in fact at times, leaving you mouth open, eyes glaring, wondering how they are doing it. They all go at a hundred miles a minute with the most impeccably timed, supreme mistakes. The tightness is so evident and surely a play like this would not be half as polished if it wasn’t for the sheer tenacity that they must have rehearsed with.
Every cast member is a real talent and works far beyond expectations, however you can’t help but fall in love with the charming, hilarious, cheeky smiled Bobby Hirston playing Max. This actors smile leaks out in to the auditorium and washes the audiences’ faces with it. He almost gets a laugh as soon as he walks on to the stage and has some of the best lines and choreography/interpretative moves.
Credit to writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields – just where would you start with writing a play like this? Truly something that many folk would not be able to do. And Director Mark Bell should take a bow for his staging and direction, that takes this script and turns it in to the pure magic that it is.