Review: The Play That Goes Wrong by Mischief Theatre
Venue: York Theatre Royal, April 8
After our last couple of visits to the Theatre Royal subjected us to the emotion and horror of the First World War, we arrived at The Play That Goes Wrong hoping that we wouldn’t leave in tears again. As it happens we did – but they were tears of laughter.
As we took our seats, the stagehands were pottering around on stage, fixing props, and actually pulled a member of the front row up to hold a shelf. It became very clear we were about to witness something fun.
The titular play that goes wrong is a student production of fictional Agatha Christie-like murder mystery The Murder at Haversham Manor. The plot of this play within a play follows the standard route: a posh guy is murdered in his stately home, and a lone police inspector arrives to investigate.
As this was patently set up to be a shambles, instead of sitting through a poor murder mystery, embarrassed for a production which was clearly awful, we got to be in on the joke and party to the farcical goings on.
This very meta approach stretched as far as “stage hand” Trevor running through the bar at the interval looking for a missing dog. Clever.
A very game cast brought us tremendous physical performances.
Greg Tannahill as the original dead body, subject to all kinds of trauma, made me belly laugh with some of his reactions. Dave Hearn as the naïve new boy playing two characters had some great lines and played it beautifully.
The two actresses who ended up playing Florence were also great fun. Charlie Russell brought an excellent over the top performance as the desperate wannabe ingénue, and Lotti Maddox as stage manager and reluctant replacement Florence brought real energy to the character (not to mention an elbow drop that Randy Savage would have been proud of).
The rest of the cast acquitted themselves very well too.
A very sharp, knowing script and beautiful set design added to the balls out comedy of the production.
It is very rare for me to attend a theatre show which has an entire audience enthralled, which mixes strong verbal timing with broad physical comedy to satisfy pretty much everyone.
My face hurt from laughing.
- The Play That Went Wrong is at York Theatre Royal until Saturday, April 12, at 7.30pm with a 2.30pm Sat matinee
- More details on the theatre website
- Read all our reviews here