Theatre Review: The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong – Oxford Playhouse, Oxford

The Play That Goes Wrong tells of the fictional Cornley Polytechnic Society, an amateur dramatic group who put on a production of ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor.’ The show is introduced by the ‘director’ Chris Bean (Henry Shields) who promises the audience a night to remember, and ensures that it will be an improvement on previous productions. This sets the tone for what is to follows, any possible mishap that could happen to a production, collapsing sets, forgotten lines, bad acting is perfectly recreated by the cast.
Mischief Theatre have devised this piece of work (three of the actors are also credited as writers.) This also extends to the programme where there are two cast lists: one for the play and one for the play within the play, with members of the Cornley Polytechnic Society all providing fictional bios.

The set is impressive, a wood panelled room with an additional room above, accessed by a lift, but as the play progresses it becomes central to the action. The actors’ expressions of disbelief frequently reduces the audience to fits of hysterical laughter. Impeccable timing means that pauses in the action allow the ‘cast’ and the audience to react to each incident has it happens.

All the acting is excellent. Henry Lewis (playing Robert Grove playing Thomas Colleymoore) produces a perfect comic performance. Charlie Russell (Sandra playing Florence Colleymoore) and Lotti Maddox as Annie, the Stage Manager and designer who also has to step in to play a part after an unfortunate incident.

If you loved Noises Off and thought The Mousetrap was lacking hilarity and violence then this farce provides the ideal antidote.

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