Winner of the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, The Play That Goes Wrong bounces back into London's West End at the Duchess Theatre, following two previous runs and a sell-out season at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Join the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they attempt to stage a complex murder mystery drama where, as the title suggests, everything that possibly could go wrong does! The over-the-top thespians struggle to keep the 1920s mystery afloat, as accident prone actors get into mischief, personal life is dragged on stage and even the set begins to collapse around them.
Described as 'Faulty Towers' meets The Mousetrap, The Play That Goes Wrong is guaranteed to have you rolling in the aisles. From humble beginnings at the Old Red Lion in Islington, the Mischief Theatre Company who have both written and performed The Play That Goes Wrong join the ranks of the West End delivering this innovative farce with utter precision, expert comic timing and ruthless energy.
The Play That Goes Wrong Synopsis
The Play That Goes Wrong begins before the curtain has even been raised, as the audience witness the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society preparing to stage their annual production – which this year happens to be a 1920s murder mystery 'Murder at Haversham Manor'.
With a murder having been committed in a country house isolated by a fierce snowstorm, there are multiple suspects, and an Inspector hell bent on solving the crime – the perfect ingredients for a complex thriller...
As props start to disappear, actors go missing and the set begins to fall down around the cast, mayhem ensues, but the amateur thespians struggle on against all the odds. But will they ever make the final curtain? And at what cost...?
The Play That Goes Wrong Child Policy
Suitable for ages 8+
2 Hours and 5 Minutes
Sun, 27 October 2019
The Play That Goes Wrong Cast
By: Mischief Theatre company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields Producer: Kenny Wax Ltd and Stage Presence Ltd Director: Mark Bell Lighting: Ric Mountjoy Sound: Andy Johnson Design: Nigel Hook Costume: Roberto Surace
Jack Baldwin as Chris, Leonard Cook as Robert, Katy Daghorn as Sandra, Fred Gray as Jonathan, George Haynes as Max, Daniel Poyser as Trevor, Lindsey Scott as Annie and Sydney K Smith as Dennis, alongside Tom Babbage, Jamie Birkett, Sean Carey and Beth Lilly.
The Play That Goes Wrong Critics & Reviews
Critics rating: **** Average press rating: **** Review by: Mark Shenton
The theatre loves nothing more than itself, especially when things aren't going to plan: this kind of self-sustaining narcissism has made hits of everything from The Producers and Spamalot to Michael Frayn's Noises Off. And in The Play That Goes Wrong, we're here to prick the pomposities and artifice of theatre yet again in a bustling portrait of an amateur dramatic company from Cornley Polytechnic, as they attempt to put on a 1920s murder thriller called Murder at Haversham Manor.
The result is far, far funnier than The Mousetrap ever was and that's now in its 62nd year, so I think that its creators Mischief Theatre - a group of graduates from LAMDA who began as an impro comedy troupe - may have a substantial little hit on their hands, built on the shifting sands of its own insubstantiality.
It's a beautiful theatrical paradox, and that it should have now come all the way to the West End from humble beginnings in the upstairs room of the Old Red Lion pub theatre the Christmas before last is also a genuine thrill. The underdog can triumph - even if their dog called Winston has gone missing (and instead has to be represented here only by his lead).
Everything that can go wrong, it seems, does go wrong for this play, its players and particularly its wobbly, fragile set. But the more it does, of course, the funnier it becomes. It's divinely daft, gloriously preposterous and utterly silly. But it's also not for everyone: anyone with slightly more sophisticated comedy palettes may baulk at the relentlessness of it all.
Yet I also think you cannot fail to admire the ceaseless energy of the cast or the wildly caricatured yet minutely detailed comedy performances they deliver. Just to watch co-author Henry Shields's face, crossing from bafflement to wide-eyed pleasure at how he's managed to cover yet another gaffe is priceless.
He's one of a terrific ensemble of young actors who give it impeccable timing and daring physical energy. The stage mechanics are expertly choreographed by director Mark Bell, as is Nigel Hook's design which is unquestionably giving the best performance by a set in the West End at the moment.
"This set is a bloody deathtrap," complains the stage manager at one point, and before the evening is out, it's hardly a spoiler to say that it will have collapsed almost entirely. It starts falling apart before the play even begins, so it's not much of a surprise. But the real surprise is just how well-sustained the joke is. When it first premiered it was seen in a one-act version that ran for not much more than an hour. Now it has been expanded into two acts that runs for double that time, including an interval. The pleasure may not quite have doubled - I was left wanting less, not more - but I was still impressed.
The Play That Goes Wrong Tickets are now on sale.
"All in all, it’s a great-looking, brilliantly performed piece ... My only qualm about The Play That Goes Wrong is that in getting their play so dreadfully wrong night after night, they are also getting it absolutely right." Tim Walker for The Telegraph
"one of those breakneck exercises in idiocy that make you laugh till you cry, despite yourself." Ben Brantley, New York Times
"It’s not sophisticated and it’s certainly over-extended; the show’s one-act Fringe origins aren’t hard to spot. Yet, along with the rest of the enthusiastic audience, I laughed continually. Director Mark Bell also offers some ingenious, not to mention precision-drilled, physical comedy." Fiona Mountford for The Evening Standard
The Duchess Theatre is one of the smallest proscenium based theatres in the West End. Ewen Barr, who designed the building, was not considered to be a particularly successful architect, but he overcame many of the challenges of the awkwardly shaped site to create a relatively successful theatre. It opened in November 1929 with a production of Hubert Griffith’s Tunnel Trench. Short runs of plays dominated the Duchess Theatre’s early years, including works by Emlyn Williams and T. S. Eliot in the 1930s, but none quite so short as the 1930 production of The Intimate Revue, which opened and closed on the same night, March 11th, the shortest run of a production in West End history!
Fortunately, the theatre’s luck turned around and long running productions such as Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit in 1942, the musical Oh! Calcutta! In 1974 and Marc Camoletti’s Don’t Dress For Dinner in 1992 have ensured that the theatre never remained empty for very long.
Other than a run of Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story in 2007, the Duchess Theatre has almost exclusively been home to straight plays rather than musicals over the last twenty years, and has seen several stars appear on its stage, including:
Maureen Lipman, Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Bill Nighy, David Suchet, Henry Goodman, Mark Rylance, Dominic West, Ruby Wax, Alex Jennings, Lenny Henry and Kathleen Turner.
The Theatre is currently owned by Nimax Theatres and plays host to the 2015 Olivier Award winning comedy The Play That Goes Wrong.
The auditorium has two levels – Stalls and Grand Circle.
In the Stalls, seats curve inwards towards the end of each row and the seats are not raked until Row G. The Grand Circle also overhangs the Stalls from Row G onwards.
The Circle offers good views throughout, and it is a very intimate theatre so does not feel removed from the action.
Facilities At Duchess Theatre
Seat plan: Duchess Theatre Seat Plan Facilities: Bar Disabled toilets Infrared hearing loop Toilets Wheelchair accessible
Access description: One shallow step up from Catherine Street on a slight slope – lower to the right. facing main entrance. 10 steps up to the Dress Circle (3 steep steps between each row). 20 steps down to the Stalls. Staircases have handrails on both sides, and some steps are highlighted. Auditorium open 30 mins prior to performance.
Sound Amplification: Sennheiser system with 6 headsets. Avoid the first 3 rows in the Stalls and the boxes as the signal is not very strong there.
Guide Dogs: Guide dogs are allowed into the auditorium if you are seated in an aisle seat or a box. Staff will also dog-sit in manager’s office for a maximum of 2 guide dogs per performance.
Disabled Access: Steps to all parts of the auditorium. Wheelchair users who need to remain in their chairs can use AAT Major stair-climber which lowers chairs to the stalls level, where there are spaces at N1 and N29. Please note, the stair-climber is not stored in site so advance notification is essential. Alternatively, if you are able to transfer from your chair, theatre staff will be able to assist you to any aisle seat in the Dress Circle, which is up 12 steps. Your chair will be stored in a cloakroom by the Stalls. Staff are happy to help. F1 and F22 in the Stalls have the most leg room. Staff will also try to find suitable seating on the night.
Toilets: Women’s and men’s by Stalls, plus men’s 8 steps up and women’s 17 steps up from the Dress Circle.
Disabled Toilets: One adapted toilet at Stalls. Door opens inwards
Nearest tube: Covent Garden Tube lines: Piccadilly Location: West End Railway station: Charing Cross Bus numbers: (Aldwych) RV1, 6, 11, 13, 23, 59, 68, 87, 171, 172, 188, X68 Night bus numbers: (Aldwych) 6, 23, 188, N11, N13, N26, N47, N68, N87, N89, N155, N171, N551 Car park: Drury Lane, Parker Street (5mins) Within congestion zone?: Yes Directions from tube: (5mins) Go right on Long Acre; turn right into Bow Street and after 100 metres turn left (Russell Street) then immediately right onto Catherine Street, where the theatre is located 100 metres down.