Review: The play that goes wrong


by Mike Matthaiakis

The Play That Goes Wrong” by the comedy troupe Mischief continues to be a resounding success, holding the title of the longest-running comedy in the West End. The play, which originated as a pub-theatre hit, has become a global phenomenon, performed in over 30 countries and celebrated for its hilarious take on the tradition of theatrical mishaps.

Mischief, comprised of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields, draws on a rich tradition of plays where everything goes comically awry, from Shakespeare’s rude mechanicals to Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off.” In this production, the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempts to stage “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” a 1920s country-house murder mystery, encountering a cascade of problems from the beginning.

The humor revolves around the chaos that ensues as doors stick, supporting pillars collapse, fires break out, and the set crumbles, all while the determined cast persists in adhering strictly to the script. The physical comedy and absurd slapstick generate giant belly laughs from the audience, making it a delightful and uproarious experience.

While the larger-scale mayhem is a highlight, including collapsing walls and stuck doors, the smaller-scale details also contribute to the laughter. Moments like the cast getting trapped in a loop due to forgotten lines or the running gag of the murder victim repeatedly moving add layers to the comedic chaos.

The current cast excels in their roles, with Luke Dayhill’s portrayal of the perpetually reappearing murder victim and Ross Virgo’s actor breaking character for audience responses standing out. Keith Ramsay shines as the dialogue-mangling butler, adding his unique brand of humor by switching scotch for white spirit.

Mark Bell’s direction brings out the highly physical comedy and satirical send-ups of familiar tropes, creating a chaotic joy that resonates with the audience. The production’s success is evident, with audiences finding delight in the meticulously orchestrated disasters and the cast’s unwavering commitment to the chaos.

As “The Play That Goes Wrong” continues its triumphant run, Mischief showcases its ability to turn theatrical disaster into a triumphant comedic experience. With the promise of the Peter Pan Goes Wrong tour and the enduring popularity of this production, Mischief’s knack for transforming mishaps into triumphs remains a crowd-pleasing formula.

Currently booking until Nov 3, 2024