The Play That Goes Wrong (Tour) - Theatre Review

Mischief Theatre once again tour their extremely successful ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’. That’s right, the ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ are back once again, with a new cast but the same brand of hilarious comedy. This haphazard bunch of amateur performers are excited to be showcasing The Murder at Havisham Manor – a play that, for once, they are able to perfectly cast with no adaptations. Unfortunately, a small set of problems both onstage and backstage lead to a catastrophic series of events that only seem to escalate. Cue hilarity.

It’s hard to remember a time when Mischief Theatre were performing in the tiny London fringe venue, the Old Red Lion, especially since they have now had work on every continent (bar Antartica – check out the programme for an adorable illustrated history of the company and other such fun titbits). Their own particular brand of humour has proved incredibly successful all over the globe, and it’s always great fun to see audiences enjoy their work for the first time.

There’s a real pleasure in watching carefully controlled chaos, particularly in live theatre. It’s evident that each section, each gag, each visual joke must be rehearsed with such precision, you can only feel pure admiration for the cast (and stage management team, who are obviously a little more reliable than the ones of Cornley Amateur Dramatic Society). As is always the way with new casts of such popular shows, comparisons to the original team are inevitable, but on the whole this is a wonderful ensemble who manage to bring a few fresh nuances to the plot.

There’s some excellent slapstick on show here, and in particular Catherine Dryden and Elena Valentine carry off their closing extended fight sequence admirably, after excellent performances throughout. There’s also some lovely work by Jake Curran, who dealt with the exuberant audience deftly and humorously in his opening speech. Bobby Hirston gave us an adorable and likeable Max, and Benjamin McMahon was superb as the awkward Dennis. Great work too from Gabriel Paul, as the Duran Duran loving techie Trevor – never has a clock striking 12 (or 13... or 14...) been such fun! But it is the strength of the ensemble that really sells this particular piece, and it’s obvious they are all working incredibly hard.

As can sometimes be the case in the cavernous Milton Keynes Theatre, there are a few issues with dialogue not carrying, and the madcap nature of the show means some sections of text lack definition. This does of course contribute to the furious energy of the show, and has a logic, but it’s a shame some pieces of dialogue are slightly blurry round the edges. The huge space of the theatre also doesn’t quite allow some of the smaller visual gags to work fully for those at the back (such as the pencil, pad, flowers malarkey) but the team work hard to make these as accessible as possible.

However, these small issues cannot alter the fact that my classic comedy-loving father chortled his socks off, I giggled almost non-stop and the entirety of the Milton Keynes audience guffawed throughout the show. The Play That Goes Wrong continues to delight, amuse and entertain in equal measure.

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