Like this play, I am a very clumsy person. I’ve lived in my house for five years and I still bump into walls, trip over furniture and regularly bash my elbow on the blummin’ shower screen.
I also used to perform a lot on stage when I was younger. So I am very familiar with things that can and do go wrong in theatre and I’ve seen and probably done enough stereotypical bad acting.
So this play had masses of appeal for me.
I actually first heard about it thanks to The Play That Goes Wrong performance on The Royal Variety Show in 2015. They delivered a nine minute section of the show, which led to nine minutes of laughter from me. It tickled me silly and I knew I would book tickets almost immediately.
We arrived at the Duchess Theatre 45 minutes early. Now this is very unlike us. We usually rock up with fifteen minutes to spare. But it was cold, chucking it down and we’d already successfully shopped at Covent Garden Market, so it made sense to just make our way there.
And it’s a good job too! For any other theatre goers like us, get there early as the show begins around 20 minutes before the printed start time. Now, this is not the ‘proper’ show, but some fun audience interaction. The team of actors, directors and technicians simply go about their usual preamble before lights go down. It also sets up some future bits of the show, so if you miss it, you’ll be left out of the ‘in joke’. I’ll just leave it at that as I don’t want to give you any spoilers.
The show itself follows an amateur dramatics group, who are running their next production of The Murder at Haversham Manor. And by god I love a good Murder Mystery. So I put on my Deerstalker and pulled out my flower vase notepad and pen made of keys ready to solve the crime.
Enter stage left a group of imbeciles. We see the actor with script written on his hand, the over the top adulteress, the stuck up director who obviously stars as the detective and the camp man who breaks the fourth wall.
It reminded me of the time my twin sister and I, a pair of goofy, scrawny year 7s, played a small part in the school play ‘Guys and Dolls’. I remember being on stage with her inside a stall type prop, selling newspapers. As my debut at High School, I took this rather seriously and channelled a typical 1950s market stall seller. My sister on the other hand, or more specifically on the other side of me, had a different idea. As a not so keen actor and probably just did it because I did, decided to spend her time staring into the audience at our parents. Not only that, she relentlessly waved, smiled and mouthed ‘mum, dad, look, hi’. She will never live that camcorder footage down. #facepalm
If you combine those incompetent actors with an incapable technician crew, Wham Bam Bobs your Uncle (he actually is mine) you have a Mary Berry soggy bottom disaster.
The whole set came to pieces. Literally. Came to pieces in their hand. Lighting failed. Musical interludes over ran. Walls collapsed and actors dreams shattered. You have to give the cast credit as it is really difficult to be credible yet ‘hammy’ and I think they all hit the nail on the head. Their subtle yet over the top reactions and expressions where incredible. Bravo.
Now I would say that the first half was much stronger than the second. All the jokes are fresh and we’re meeting the characters for the first time, so it’s kind of like the honeymoon period. It is harder to continue that for another 40 minutes and keep the passion burning in such a superficial society. So instead, and rightly so, the scenes in the second half got bigger, louder and more absurd. It was an American sized serving of catastrophe, with a bright orange cherry on the top.
This all happens alongside the murder mystery, You probably forgot that was part of it! They of course revealed the culprit in the final scenes, but annoyingly because of the absolute mayhem, I couldn’t hear the reasoning behind the killing. But it’s a small price to pay for such a fun production.
So if you’re up for a laugh and a bit of escapism from the whirlwind, shock and disappointment that has been 2016, then this has to be the show for you. It made my cheeks hurt anyway (no, not those ones)
Book tickets on their dodgy website http://www.theplaythatgoeswrong.com/london
Find out more about Mischief Productions other work http://mischieftheatre.co.uk/