Lyric Theatre, The Lowry, Manchester – until June 10th 2017. Reviewed by Julie Noller
My night started well, 48 miles from home and that was I had left my phone, oh dear would it be a sign of things to come? Possibly but not in the way you may be thinking. I sat in Pier 8 (The Lowry’s Bar & Restaurant) with my coffee and watched the audience arrive, no phone meant a spot of people watching. I was struck by the fact tonight’s audience was made up of groups, normally I notice a lot of couples but tonight it looked like the The Play That Goes Wrong was going to be a very social affair. This was the first time I had been into The Lowry on my own, I have spoken to people who regulary attend alone after all once a performance begins we are all friends.
I collected my ticket and took some time to read through the programme, which is very tongue in cheek and a good place to start. With lots of information about the characters and the characters that they play. We also have the usual introductions to the actors which is always intresting to read how hard they’ve worked over the years learning their art.
As we the audience were taking to our seats, I looked to the stage set, we had very noticeable pieces, it looked amost like the dormitory in Hogwarts, 1920’s manor house as the title ‘Murder at Haversham Manor’ suggests, I can still hear Chris Bean/Inspector Carter saying the title and I’m giggling still, even if he did bring to mind a 1950’s holiday camp worker ala Hi-de-Hi. Then to our surprise the door (that door should be a character in itself with it’s own place in the programme) flew open, at first I thought it may be cleaners, I know silly of me. It became apparent it was part of the performance and very cleverly sets the scene for what is to follow. A dog is missing does anyone in the audience have a dog with them? Cue the cast running to the upper tiers of the theatre to look for Winston the said dog.
Attention to detail throughout is fantastic, from Annies (Katie Bernstein) ‘CAT’ tshirt tieing in with Chris introduction speech telling us all about The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, to Trevor (Greame Rooney) the lighting and sound operator who for most of the performance is sat in front of the stage and from my seat in the Stalls, I had the perfect view of (you quite often needed one eye in two places it was so fast paced), I can imagine the character being writen and would have loved to have been a fly on the wall, there when someone suggested as a scottish character he should have a bottle of Irn-bru sitting on the podium.
I have never heard an audience laugh so much, it’s the perfect antidote to the seriousness of recent months, a bit of sillyness to raise the spirits of sad times. The cast took this opportunity after their well deserved standing ovation to raise awareness of recent events, saying that Mischief Theatre members, Henry Lewis,Jonathon Sayer and Henry Shield as the uber talented writers of The Play The Goes Wrong are currently on Broadway and as such can’t be in Manchester. They wanted to organise a collection for the Manchester Relief Fund. As usual the fantastic Lowry Volunteers were fully organised with buckets.
I know it has been described as a farce but I was reminded of Baldrick in Blackadder, saying words wrong , getting mixed up but oh so funny. We have Perkins (Edward Howells) and his wrong pronunciation of many words, he always had written on his hand. Charles Haversham (Jason Callender) the very much alive corpse, will he ever get his scene right? Well the applause and cheers were all his. Thomas Collymore (Adam Byron) will he ever be able to answer the telephone? Stopped only by the set slowly falling apart. Florence Collymore (Meg Mortell) knocked unconscious despite her hilarious ‘episodes’ and overacting, desperate to regain control of her character despite Annie becoming stage struck and wanting to make the role her own. Then there’s Cecil Haversham (Alastair Kirton) with his hilarious hand gestures and smile that got him the the big audience laughs and he wants more. I wonder if anyone in the audience wondered who the murderer was? The real story is that everything is falling apart, can the drama society make it through to the end of the play and will Chris Bean realise his moustache is hanging off? Will Trevor ever find his Duran Duran CD?
I wonder if the writers have ever written Health and Safety reports as I suspect they’d be perfect at it, I wonder if they wrote a list of things that could and does go wrong before they wrote the play? I watched it whilst thinking of people, wow my teenage daughter would love this, I could see my son giggling away, I left with a huge smile. I loved it, I can’t tell you my favourite part, I can’t tell you my favourite character, I might just have to go back and watch this again….. I wonder if I can persuade my husband to take a trip to New York and Broadway? No I doubt that would work either but I can suggest returning to The Lowry before June 10th. The Play That Goes Wrong is on tour now until August, if you want some good old fashioned lighthearted British humour then this is a must see that crosses the age divide.