The Play That Goes Wrong – Review – York Grand Opera House
The Play That Goes Wrong – Review
York Grand Opera House, May 2018
by Roger Crow
The first time I saw one of the most celebrated murder farces of recent years, it was a last-minute dash to Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre and a ticket with a restricted view. I still enjoyed it, but sat at such an angle that I missed around a third of the comedy.
No such problems with The Play That Goes Wrong as it launches in York. My seat in the gods is perfect, and thankfully after more than a year’s gap, I’ve forgotten the bulk of the gags.
The plot is a spin on the stately home murder mystery. A homicide has taken place, suspects are gathered and the case is investigated. But taking a classic story and giving it a Buster Keaton-style spin is a work of genius. There’s so much physical comedy on display here, it’s hard not to applaud every triumph over adversity.
“Laughing so hard”
Okay, some scenes could do with tightening up. A character milks one intentionally flawed moment too long, and as with Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’, a repetitive scene late in the show goes on one ‘verse’ too long, but for the most part this is a huge success.
If I’m being vague about the gags, that’s deliberate. Things falling down, being trodden on, wrong props and ‘bad’ actors are of course all part of the magic. The gag rate here is on a par with Airplane! It’s a long time since I’ve heard an audience at The Grand Opera House laughing so hard and so long at a show, but I’m not surprised. The Play That Goes Wrong is a well-oiled machine of a farce, and though the odd scene outstays its welcome, a good 80 per cent of the comedy arrows hit the bullseye.
“Cast are excellent”
Whether you catch the show at the Grand Opera House, York, Hull New Theatre (21 – 26 May) or Bradford Alhambra (18 – 23 June), I’d be amazed if you didn’t come away exhausted from laughing for most of the duration.
But what of the show within the show?
Well, ‘Murder at Haversham Manor’ might not be a play that goes right, but Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society do their best considering the amount of trouble they have with the production.
The cast acquit themselves well amid countless problems, and even the stage crew step in when the occasion demands to ensure the show goes on. And the actual cast playing Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are excellent.
“Perilous prat falls”
Mischief Theatre deserve the thunderous applause they get for handling the complex dialogue, perilous prat falls and superbly orchestrated stunts. A special mention to Pontefract’s own Bobby Hirston, whose hapless Max reduces the crowd to hysterics with every fourth wall-breaking grin.
Also a nod to Elena Valentine, who adds glamour to the part of Sandra/Florence. I can only imagine how many bruises she and other cast members might endure at the end of every show.
Kazeem Tosin Amore’s Robert/Thomas also does a masterful job of juggling assorted props in a painfully funny second act set piece.
If you’re in need of a good belly laugh (and who isn’t?), make a note in your “ledger!” and catch the nearest performance as soon as you can. It’s a rib-tickling masterpiece.