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THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG


Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields & Dave Hearn in The Play That Goes Wrong
Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields & Dave Hearn
in The Play That Goes Wrong
More Production Photos


For a theatre troupe that specializes in things going wrong on stage, things couldn’t be going more right for Mischief Theatre – a group of actors/writers who have dominated the West End comedy scene in recent years and are now making their Broadway debut with their Olivier Award-winning The Play That Goes Wrong – our #ShowOfTheWeek!

Having begun its life above a pub in London with three paying guests at its inaugural performance, the success of The Play That Goes Wrong is a modern Cinderella story. The long and winding road eventually took the piece to London’s West End, opening at the Duchess Theatre (where it is still running) in September 2014 and scooping the Olivier Award for “Best New Comedy” in 2015.

Since then, Mischief has also staged two limited festive engagements and a televised BBC special of Peter Pan Goes Wrong and a third West End production – A Comedy About a Bank Robbery – is still running at the Criterion Theatre. Now, these masters of slapstick have set their eyes on New York domination and spreading their brand of over-the-top silliness on Broadway.

Cast members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields are also the writers of the play which follows the hapless members of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, who are attempting to stage a classic whodunit entitled “Murder at Haversham Manor.” To absolutely nobody’s surprise, the play doesn’t run quite as smoothly as hoped and from the set falling apart at the seams to acts of accidental (and intentional) violence perpetrated amongst the cast and stage techs, it’s a miracle there aren’t any actual deaths on stage by the end of the proceedings.

In these troubled times, thank heavens for laughter. At the performance I attended, the audience roared with said laughter on cue as they ate out of the palms of the Mischief members. The play is pretty much performed in its original West End version with only a few added references for an American audience. At the start of the show, Director Chris Bean (a deadpan Henry Shields) apologises for the ticket mix-up for the few hundred patrons in the audience that were expecting to see ‘Hamilton’ and hopes that their little murder mystery will be just as enjoyable. This sentiment of self-belittlement is one of the production’s winning factors. From displaying signage outside the Lyceum Theatre upside-down to the printing error on the playbill, everything about the production is deliberately designed to appear terribly amateurish and therein lies the beauty.

Read our exclusive Interview That Goes Wrong with Chris Bean!

From carefully executed stunts of physical comedy to exaggerated facial expressions and the messing up of lines, these professionals are doing wondrous jobs at playing total amateurs and long may they continue to spread smiles on both sides of the Atlantic!

Click here for tickets to The Play That Goes Wrong for performances through to December 30, 2017 at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre.

- by Tom Millward

Production Details
Venue: Lyceum Theatre
Genre: Comedy
Previewed: 09 Mar 2017
Opened: 02 Apr 2017
Playwrights: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer & Henry Shields
Director: Mark Bell

Synopsis: The Play That Goes Wrong is a riotous comedy about the theatre. The play introduces The 'Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society' who are attempting to put on a 1920s' murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong…does, as the accident prone thespians battle on against all the odds to get to their final curtain call.

Cast: Matthew Cavendish, Bryony Corrigan, Rob Falconer, Dave Hearn, Henry Lewis, Charlie Russell, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields, Greg Tannahill and Nancy Zamit

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