The show’s title tells you everything you need to know, this indeed is a play that goes wrong – hilariously, chaotically, wrong.

Credit: Robert Day

From the minds of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields of Mischief Theatre, the show premiered in the Old Red Lion Theatre, a pub theatre in Angel, Islington. The show has since gone from strength to strength with a West End tenure in its 9th year and an off-broadway production. It’s been performed in 30 countries and has won multiple awards.

Credit: Robert Day

Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is putting on a murder mystery play, under Chris Bean’s direction. (He’s a man of many hats as he’s also doing the set and costume design, managing the box office, doing the PR, dramaturgy, dialect coaching, and fight choreography – perhaps too many hats!)

Daniel Cech-Lucas powers Chris with an incredibly short fuse one could liken to Basil Fawlty. Keith Ramsay displays exceptional comedic timing in the role of the butler Perkins, at times elongating lines with pauses to ensure we sit within the awkwardness his line has created. Every joke in Ramsay’s hands lands perfectly. Ross Virgo plays an endearing Cecil with asides to the audience galore; it’s impossible not to like him. Iona Fraser’s deadpan expressions are hysterical as she takes on the role of Florence as an emergency cover. 

Credit: Robert Day

More than just a play, the entirety of Mark Bell’s production is as well-choreographed as a ballet. One wrong foot and I’m sure it could spell (even more of) a catastrophe for the cast on stage. Nigel Hook’s set is an absolute death trap. There were a couple of moments which weren’t quite seamlessly performed by the cast – if you looked closely, you could see hesitations or moves which looked choreographed rather than a natural occurrence of the set imploding, as it ought to appear. I’m sure throughout their run this will be pulled off more naturally.

No single entrance or exit takes place without something going awry, and yet the repetition of certain gags never once feels tedious. Small movements hold the audience’s attention, like a door handle rising back up after being tried. It really is an incredibly clever production. 

Credit: Robert Day

Lewis, Sayer and Shields’ script is witty and entertaining, and this new cast brings it to life splendidly. It is a hilarious production – one that I’m sure will be in the West End for many years to come. For a show where so much goes wrong, it’s pretty good! I hope Mischief Theatre keep getting things wrong! 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Play That Goes Wrong is currently booking until April 2024 at the Duchess Theatre – you can find more info here!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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