Grand Opera House York until Saturday 19th May 2018.
Reviewed by Michelle Richardson
The very popular ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’, a hysterical production from Mischief Theatre, has returned to York after 4 years, with more laughs than you will ever hear from any other show. The play, which is about a play being performed that goes wrong (who would’ve guessed), where just about everything that can go wrong does go wrong. ‘Murder at Havisham Manor’ is performed by the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, a gripping whodunit with twists and shocks. What transpires are shocks aplenty, but not from the suspense in finding out whodunit, but by nothing going to plan and the cast having to improvise and think on their feet when things do go wrong.
The basic story is that the drama society finally has enough cast members to fill all the roles, as we are informed from director Chris Bean (Jake Curran), who is also Inspector Carter in the play. As the play unfolds the cast and crew encounter disaster after disaster.
The cast have an overwhelming job of precision and dealing with a fairly complex play and stage, nothing was out of place and every single gag was performed with military execution. Each actor has to juggle with two roles, the role they play and then the role that their character plays. The whole, extremely clever cast, work tirelessly delivering a truly hilarious, physical performance.
I especially enjoyed the role of Max, playing Cecil Faversham, (Bobby Hirston), who once he realises that he has an audience just can’t help coming over all funny and grinning like a Cheshire cat at the most inappropriate of times, playing up to the audience instead of ignoring them, a true amateur in the making. The scene with Sandra, playing Florence Colleymoore (Elena Valentine) and the window was memorable and she must have bruises galore as a result, which several members must surely have as well with all the slapstick going on, slamming into things, falling down, being trod on etc, etc.
The set and staging of the play is a character in its own right, and the cast knew how to use it to the very best of their advantage. The complexity and attitude of the stage created a lot of laughs, with pretty much everything falling down at some point or other, props being put in the wrong place, characters being knocked out and things just not working. The cleverness and design of the stage is absolutely mind blowing, and obviously well-rehearsed in order to prevent some serious injury.
With gags galore, this slapstick comedy packs a punch with so much physical energy and great timing. I have never been to a show where the whole audience of all ages ranges, laughed so loud and so often, a great stress reliever, suitable for the whole family. One not to be missed if you want a big huge grin on your face.
Touring the UK, including Hull New Theatre (21 – 26 May) and Bradford Alhambra (18 – 23 June).