DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

The Play That Goes Wrong – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Reviewer: Ruth Jepson

Writers: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields

Original Director: Mark Bell

Director: Sean Turner

There’s been a Murder at Haversham Manor and only Inspector Carter can solve it. Was is the flirty fiancé? The over protective brother in law? The loyal servant? Actually, it doesn’t matter because that isn’t the show the audience are here to see.

Mischief Theatre present Murder at Haversham Manor as members of The Corley Polytechnic Drama Society, as the show-within-the-show at the centre of The Play That Goes Wrong. If you have even the slightest bit of experience with amateur dramatics then you are in for a night of absolute hilarity. Think of any stereotype – the over acting, the bad lighting, the forth wall breaking, the egos – and it will be conjured up on the stage. And think of literally anything that could go wrong and that will happen too, along with a few things you would never guess. From lost dogs to falling set dressings to general trip hazards, collisions and mispronunciations, every single worst nightmare possible is represented. It is side splittingly hilarious – the audience laugh more at the ‘technicians’ preshow checks in the ten minutes before the show officially starts than they probably have all year! By the end of Act One your ribs will hurt.

For a show about everything going wrong to work so well, all the wrong things have to go right, and the sheer amount of talent on display is astonishing. From the simplest prat fall to the most precise fight choreography, The Play That Goes Wrong is a masterpiece of physical acting and comedic timing, all taking place in the most fabulous badly made set ever seen (set designer Nigel Hook has knocked this one out of the park). It is genuinely believable that folk have walked into doors or injured themselves, all while the farcical nature of the show clearly shows that everything is acting, as situations are stretched well past reality into the absurd (wait for Chris, played by Colin Burnicle, to lose the ledger for a perfect example).

There are some slight moments where the trip or wallop is too obviously acted, and unfortunately that is the only point where the contract between actor and audience is broken. These moments are, however, very slight and only noticeable because of the absolute slickness of the rest of the show. There is also an unnecessary gay joke that could be cut or amended (it’s 2022, two men having to kiss isn’t comedy gold anymore). Otherwise The Play That Goes Wrong is an absolute must see of a show. Call up your old college theatre group and see which actor you relate to the most – you definitely won’t be sorry.

Runs until Saturday 16th July 2022.

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Chaos

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