The Play That Goes Wrong does precisely what it says on the label. This surprise West End hit from Mischief Theatre has crash-tackled its way onto the Sydney stage on a warmly received Australian tour.
A death trap of a set that’s falling to pieces, an incompetent cast who can barely hold character let alone remember their lines, and a hopeless techie who misses every cue. Fictitious amateur company ‘The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s’ attempt at staging play-within-a-play The Murder at Haversham Manor (a 1920’s era whodunit with all the hallmarks of an Agatha Christie classic) is a glorious mess.
This production is an endless barrage of slapstick humour, half the fun comes from anticipating the next near miss or outrageous mishap. This is light-hearted comedy in the spirit of Fawlty Towers – old-fashioned, but not stale. Tongue firmly planted in cheek, this play doesn’t seek to uncover anything more than surface deep with its humour – and when it’s as good-natured as this, that’s hardly a concern.
A lot of theatre hitting stages lately seeks to make a connection to the social and political issues we face today (to varying degrees of success), and while I am one to relish topical and emotive drama – there is something to be said for entertainment for entertainment’s sake. There’s a palpable energy of joy amongst the audience at The Play That Goes Wrong, and there’s not a weak link amongst the cast – maintaining great continuity as they embody characters that flail to embody other characters.
The set is a character in its own right, unfolding into stupendous disarray. It takes a lot of things going right to make it look like things are falling apart so well. This production is sure to leave audiences tickled pink, even if it ruffles the feathers of some theatre purists.
Until April 23, Various performance times. Roslyn Packer Theatre, 22 Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay. $89.90-$119.90. Tickets & info: www.theplaythatgoeswrong.com.au
Reviewed by Alannah Maher.