Writers: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer & Henry Shields
Director: Mark Bell
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
A lot has changed in the few short years since the first national tour of Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong. The award-winning theatre company has catapulted itself from the room upstairs at the Old Red Lion Pub Theatre to Olivier Award-winning success, has two productions currently running in the West End, an opening this week on Broadway, is riding high on the recent success of the BBC’s festive production of Peter Pan Goes Wrong and has single-handedly managed to bring the great British tradition of farce back to the fore.
But the question is, does the show that started it all stand up to repeat viewing? In a word – yes.
For those who don’t know, Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is endeavouring to stage 1920s mystery thriller, The Murder at Haversham Manor, but a lack of talent, finance and sheer common sense makes for theatrical mayhem. Needless to say, everything that can go wrong, does, and the more the mayhem, the bigger the laughs.
Clearly influenced by Michael Frayn’s Noises Off, it’s theatre people sending up theatre people and exploiting every cliche there is about the am-dram world, and while it may not exactly be original or sophisticated, boy they do it well. The sheer cleverness of the writing of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, and the split-second timing of this new cast ensures that Mischief Theatre’s smash-hit remains a rib-tickler.
The humour in the first act is relentless, at times it’s impossible to catch every gag, and it is genuinely tear-inducing, however, the production’s original faults remain, the second act lags a little, either down to audience fatigue at the number of jokes that have assaulted your senses and/or the fact the original production ran for a tidy one hour instead of the current two hours ten minutes. One can’t help feel a little judicious trimming would make this near-perfect show truly faultless. That said, any faults are easily forgiven due to the sheer entertainment value of the whole production. Just remember to wear waterproof mascara.
Runs until 11 March 2017 | Image: Helen Murray