Review: The Play That Goes Wrong - Mischief Theatre Company
Ashleigh Dean / 10-06-2018
Hysterically funny and completely ridiculous, “The Play That Goes Wrong” does exactly what it says on the tin. The basic premise of a play-within-a-play is something I haven’t seen since I saw “The Woman in Black” on the West End a few years ago. Now, Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields and the rest of Mischief Theatre Company use the idea with an entirely different genre.
There are many complementary ways of describing this slapstick comedy and “pure genius” is one of them. The play provides copious amounts of entertainment as the audience witnesses, what is supposed to be, an amateur theatre company putting on a 1920s murder mystery, “Murder at Haversham Manor.” As you may guess, not everything goes according to plan. And by that, I mean absolutely nothing goes according to plan.
Sometimes there’s nothing more amusing than a piece of theatre being self-aware and, when someone breaks character to remind the audience that the forth wall does, in fact, exist and that we should “stay on our side of it”, nothing less than hilarity is bound to ensue. The audience participation was just one of the many things that made this play as great as it was. The cast was another. Actors playing actors who are playing characters is a plot device that’s been around for many years and this talented group of people are what brings the charm to the comedy. Making calculated choices with the creation of characters, such as having members of Mischief Theatre Company play sound techs and backstage crew, somehow made something so daft seem a little more realistic.
When it comes to slapstick, the comedy is only as good as the timing and the entirety of “The Play Goes Wrong” from start to finish relies completely on impeccable timing. To say it was flawless would be incredibly ironic, considering the purpose was to be the exact opposite. That being said, there isn’t really another word to describe the cleverness.
A beautiful set design that completely collapses by the end, missed sound cues and atrocious lighting are just a few elements that make you wonder how they even wrote a script like that, let alone brought it to life on the stage. Despite wondering how exactly they managed to execute it, the audience are also left to respect the cast and just how much time and effort must have gone into the rehearsal process.
“The Play That Goes Wrong” was something that could have very easily been one of the worst plays ever written, and yet, somehow it was done so well that the audience were in hysterics from beginning to end. Thankfully, at the end of the show, the cast announced they’ll be touring next year with their new play “A Comedy About A Bank Robbery.” I, personally, cannot wait to see what the company have in stall for this one as they managed to succeed in turning one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen into one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
The Hiscox Building, Peasholme Green
York, YO1 7PR