The Play That Goes Wrong shows that there’s no denying the hilarity of a troupe that unfailingly turns can-do into can-don’t.
It’s a stage manager’s worst nightmare — and an audience’s cue for side splitting laughter. Corpses refuse to lie still. Mispronunciations run rife. Acting styles, if you can dignify these bungling hams with that term, clash.
Absolutely everything is right about the transfer of Mischief Theatre’s award-winning Broadway production of The Play That Goes Wrong. While “non-stop laughs” has become something of a hackneyed soundbite, here it’s a 100% accurate appraisal of this hysterically funny British farce of the highest order; literally not a minute goes by in which the audience isn’t howling, from before the show officially begins until the final bows. So be sure to be in your seat early, and don’t forget to read the program, so you won’t miss the clever pre-show set-up of what’s to come.
Written by the uproarious Mischief team of Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, and Jonathan Sayer, and directed with full-out zaniness by Matt DiCarlo (following the original Broadway direction by Mark Bell), the self-referencing theatrical spoof (which, for its world premiere in London, won the prestigious Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2015) is in the format of a play-within-a-play, in which a university drama society presents a fictitious 1920s mystery called The Murder at Haversham Manor. When an unending series of “minor mishaps” wreaks havoc on opening night, the amateur cast and production team take the old maxim “the show must go on” to the extreme and continue their disastrous performance with die hard commitment till the sidesplitting end.
The show’s laugh-out-loud lunacy encompasses everything from mispronunciations, misplaced props, and mismatched action and dialogue, to missed cues, misaligned spotlights, and a malfunctioning set, along with an array of witty wordplay, sight gags, spit takes, slapstick and pratfalls. For all of the faux calamities to be believable, the timing must be impeccable, and it is, as executed with aplomb by a game ensemble that never misses a beat in the increasingly rapid-fire misfires, and never fails to trigger guffaws from the audience with the laughably convincing ‘bad performances’ of the nonprofessional characters (which is perhaps the most difficult challenge for the terrifically talented actors).
The Play that Goes Wrong
DATES: Nov. 12-17
If you love to laugh, then The Play That Goes Wrong is the right choice for you. It is escapist comedy at its most outrageous, so plan your escape now to Walton Arts Center to enjoy the engagement of this irrepressible hit.