Words by Samuel Sunter
If you’re a fan of slapstick comedy then Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong may just be the right show for you. The production follows the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they attempt to perform a 1920s murder mystery show, Murder at Haversham Manor. As the title suggests, the thespian’s performance turns awry as a series of accidents and mishaps lead to a ridiculous turn of events. With a heavy use of physical comedy, the play was an enjoyable experience, however the humour felt repetitive and recycled.
The production of the show is outstanding. As I walked into the theatre, the 1920s-styled lounge immediately caught my attention. The set is alive, and throughout the course of the play I was left astounded as it moved with a precise chaos. Frames falling from walls and structures decaying live on stage were unexpected and interesting. This was one of my favourite features of the show, with the climax offering an extravagant and shocking spectacle.
Despite the lively set, at times the comedy fell flat. An overuse of long awkward pauses in an attempt to encourage laughter and prolonged physical choreography, that was more frustrating than funny, left me wanting more. I couldn’t help but stare blankly after a character had been trying to reach a phone for five minutes or hold up a frame against the wall so it didn’t fall for an entire scene. Sure, it was funny for a little, but the long duration of scenes like this created a slow pace. The second act picks up speed, however still features recycled jokes from the first part. The comedy felt idiotic and alienating by the end of the show, and I craved something more witty and sophisticated.
As a whole, the play is unique and creative. Many moments were unexpected and the intriguing premise of the show kept my attention. The stage mechanics are incredible and each actor held a zesty energy.
Maybe this style of comedy just isn’t my cup of tea? The play definitely drew an older crowd and the theatre was in moderate laughter throughout the show. If you enjoy slapstick comedy and are looking for something quite silly and ridiculous this show is perfect, however I wouldn’t expect to be leaving the theatre sore from laughter.