Alhambra Theatre, Bradford – until 23rd June 2018
Reviewed By Dawn Smallwood
The multi-award winning comedy returns on another UK Tour including a stop in Bradford. Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong won an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2015 and its successful current run continues at London’s Duchess Theatre. The company in addition has also produced other similar vein comedies including Peter Pan Goes Wrong (2014) and The Comedy About A Bank Robber (2016).
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields The Play That Goes Wrong is about The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempting to put on Murder at Haversham Manor, a whodunnit. Only for what possibly could go wrong on the night goes wrong unpredictably with unimaginable consequences. Even before the play starts the crew members are in a flustered state while visiting the auditorium and they ask the audience if they have seen Winston, the missing dog, who is to star in the play. In addition they are doing frantic repairs on the stage with help from an audience member and Trevor (Gabriel Paul) worries about a missing Duran Duran CD Box Set and pleas to the audience to hand it in if found.
The characters’ attempt to solve the mystery was farcical and very infectious to non-stop laughter throughout from beginning, during and to the end. These are down to whether it’s the malfunctioning/falling down of the props and structures on stage, forgetting the lines, the creative crew stepping in last minute for indisposed actors and frustrations being vented behind the scenes in their unreadiness for the second act.
The six person cast for Murder at Haversham Manor entertains the audience well particularly with Jake Curran acting as eccentric host, director of The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, and the play’s Inspector Carter. Curran engages with the audience really well and even incorporate some pantomime lines. Butler Perkins (Benjamin McMahon) will always be remembered as the loyal servant to Charles Haversham (Steven Rostance) and serving the “spirit” to the inspector and household. There is a mention to the society’s crew staff, Annie (Catherine Dryden) and Trevor (Gabriel Paul) who rightfully keep the play going whether it is last minute botched repairs to the props or heroically standing in for the indisposed Sandra (Elena Valentine).
The cast put on an excellent show and they thoroughly engage with the audience while they persevered and pursue their attempts to save the play from further salvage. The farcical nature intensifies in the second act and credit must go to Nigel Hook’s staging and how it cleverly works when the whodunit is going more and more wrong at the latter stages. His staging is supported by Ric Mountjoy’s lighting and how the music and soundscapes, courtesy of Rob Falcolner and Andy Johnson, co-ordinates the action intended and unintended.
Under the direction of Mark Bell what goes wrong goes wrong. It certainly would not be right if the play doesn’t go wrong and it is evident with reaction of continuous ripples of laughters among the audience. The Play That Goes Wrong lives up to its title and it is a guaranteed evening of infectious laughter.