The Play That Goes Wrong is a show that does exactly what it says on the tin – and the result is so, so right.
Created by Mischief Theatre, the comedy recently celebrated its 7th birthday – it debuted at the Duchess Theatre in London in September 2014.
Now on its fourth UK tour, the show is still bringing tears of laughter to theatres up and down the country – including this week, at Grand Opera House York!
It’s wonderful to be back again at the Grand Opera House – it reopened again this month after an 18 month closure due to the pandemic.
Going to the theatre is already a magical experience, but one thing I missed the most was the feeling of the audience experiencing the same thing at once.
There’s nothing like being in the audience where the whole room is belly-laughing at what’s happening on stage – and laughed we did. A lot.
With The Play That Goes Wrong, the fun starts as soon as you enter the auditorium.
While the audience are taking their seats we are treated to a pre-show of sorts, where things are already starting to go wrong – most notably a missing dog, Winston.
After checking under our seats and in our bags for the missing canine to no avail, one gallant member of the audience is volunteered to take on the role.
It’s a delightful tease of the catastrophic joy that’s about to enfold…
The show follows fictional drama group The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they attempt to put on a 1920s murder mystery, complete with double-crossings, betrayals and affairs – what could possibly go wrong?
Turns out quite a lot.
What follows is two hours of fluffed lines, missing props, collapsing sets, actor injuries and general chaos that got the whole audience in stitches.
The cast are all absolutely fantastic. With spectacular timing and hilarious physical comedy, it was brilliant to watch them bounce off the reactions of the audience.
A particular highlight was director Chris Bean’s (playing Inspector Carter, played by Tom Bulpett – if that makes sense?) reaction to a heckler calling out the location of a missing prop.
His consequential breakdown climaxing in a cry of “This isn’t a pantomime!” – you can imagine the response to that – was hysterical.
One highlight for me was watching April Hughes (Sandra) and Laura Kirman (Annie) compete for the role of Florence Colleymoore with increasing outlandish attempts.
Tom Babbage (Max) cavorting around the stage made my stomach hurt from laughing. Both his turns as Cecil Haversham and Arthur the Gardener are inspired.
Both acts by the end descend into almost unhinged levels of pandemonium. Some lines are sometimes lost amidst the chaos or can’t be heard over the laughter from the audience, but it all adds to the experience.
Some of the funniest moments came when everyone on stage was silent as they desperately figured out how to carry on through the next disaster.
We as an audience are right in the palm of their hands as we wait with anticipated breath as to how they will react on stage.
I wish I could list all of my highlights in this review but it would just be retelling the whole show. To experience the complete magic of The Play That Goes Wrong would be to go in knowing as little as possible – and strap yourself in for the ride.
You can catch The Play That Goes Wrong at Grand Opera House York until Sunday.
Make sure that you do.