Winner of the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, The Play That Goes Wrong is a celebration of the best of live theater… and the worst.
Direct from a bafflingly successful run on London’s West End, this sidesplitting show-within-a-show will move you… from your house to the theater and back.
Welcome to opening night of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s newest production, The Murder at Haversham Manor. This 1920s whodunit has everything you never wanted in a Broadway show – a ramshackle set, a leading lady with a concussion, and a corpse that can’t play dead. It’s a classic mystery… and it’s a mystery how it ever got to Broadway!
And it is that relentless constancy that sets this endeavor apart from other entries in the twin, mostly clapped-out genres that it so guilelessly taps — the backstage comedy and the mystery farce with the aristocratic characters. Why? Because “The Play That Goes Wrong,” which was written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields and has arrived on Broadway after West End success, goes wrong so many times, in such mellifluous ways, and with such far-gone commitment to physical comedy. The relationship between comedy and pain is much discussed. But while most people will leave “The Play That Goes Wrong” thinking they’ve just spent two hours in a world utterly removed from the cares of the American moment, which would be true, the deeper truth in play here is that they will have watched a show that really is about the theater’s long-standing relationship with blind terror
The show must go on — but in the Broadway transfer of West End hit “The Play That Goes Wrong,” forgotten lines, lost props, technical gaffes and rebellious scenery all seem to reply, “Oh no it doesn’t.” This broad, silly and deliciously demented show, about a fictitious amateur theatrical group with great resilience and greater incompetency, is by the Brit trio of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields in a style that evokes “Fawlty Towers” with nods to Buster Keaton, Carol Burnett and Monty Python. Under the go-for-broke direction of Mark Bell, its high-energy cast is comic gold and manages to sustain, with a never-ending series of diversionary tactics, its one-joke concept.