The Play That Goes Wrong – Review – Sheffield Lyceum
By Sarah Morgan, August 2018
You know the famous brand that claims its products ‘do exactly what they say on the tin’? Well, it could be said that The Play That Goes Wrong is the theatrical equivalent of that.
Never has there been a more disastrous production – and yet every move has been planned out in the most extraordinary way to ensure that as many belly laughs are induced as possible.
It’s the brainchild of Henry Lewis, Henry Shields and Jonathan Sayer of the Mischief Theatre Company, which specialises in spoofing genres, turning conventions on their heads and pointing out how absurd certain plot devices and storytelling rules can be.
“Hardly a moment to catch a breath”
So far, The Play That Goes Wrong has played to packed audiences across the globe, winning awards in many of them – and it’s easy to see why.
Sheffield is the latest stop on its UK tour, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house – throughout the two-hour run, there was barely a second when there wasn’t a hilarious gag and hardly a moment to catch a breath between super fast slapstick and witty one-liners.
The plot is simple: the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is proud to present its most ambitious play to date, ‘Murder at Haversham Hall’. Unfortunately its entire cast and crew have far more enthusiasm than talent, which means that everything that could go wrong does.
“Pay-offs around every corner”
Cues are missed, props fail, lines are forgotten, scenery collapses and more than the odd accident befalls the actors.
What they are clearly hoping for is a whodunit in the style of The Mousetrap; what we get is farce of the highest order – and thank goodness for that.
The plot is so intricately put together, with set-ups and pay-offs around every corner that it has to be admired – even Agatha Christie herself would be proud of it; imagine her work crossed with Laurel and Hardy and you get the picture.
The cast should receive plaudits too. They regularly break the fourth wall, conversing with the audience from even before the play has really begun; we become almost as much a part of what’s going on as they are.
The likes of Jake Curran, Gabriel Paul, Catherine Dryden and Steven Rostance are not household names, but they and their co-stars are undoubtedly skilled performers, both verbally and physically – it’s a play for the young and fit; only those in shape could possibly carry off the slapstick with such impeccable timing.
During the curtain call, it was announced that the Mischief Theatre company would be back in Sheffield to perform another of their hits, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, next year. I, for one, can hardly wait.