The title says it all. Nothing works in The Play That Goes Wrong. Scenery collapses, props are misplaced, actors get their lines wrong, and, several times, the “corpse” at the center of this 1920s murder mystery has to surreptitiously crawl off stage, hoping that the audience won’t notice that he’s still alive.
It’s the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s ill-fated production of Murder at Haversham Manor. Before the curtain goes up, the director addresses the audience, apologizing for the “box office error” that led 375 of them to think they’d purchased tickets for Mamma Mia!
But there was good news! For the first time, the Drama Society had enough members to fill all the roles in the play. This should make the evening more enjoyable than it was during last year’s performance of Snow White and the Four Dwarfs. Or the earlier dramatization of The Lion, and the Wardrobe. Or last Summer’s musical, Cat.
The Play That Goes Wrong began its life as a one-act play performed by the members of an improv theatre company in a room above a pub. After that, it played at Trafalgar Studios, a London theatre that specializes in being “a starting place for new productions to find their home in London.” Along the way, it evolved into a full length show and moved to the Duchess Theatre, where it got raves and became a major hit. This week it won the Olivier award as “Best New Comedy.”
I was part of the full house that saw it on a Sunday night. It’s pure silliness, it’s lighter than air, and it’s hilarious. The company is already booking tickets into 2016