The Play That Goes Wrong at the Curve
Mischief managed on another fantastically disastrous performance
With a slightly delayed start to this show, it’s unclear whether the antics did indeed start right away as is common in Mischief Theatre productions, but either way it was worth the wait. The predictable chaos definitely starts once you’re seated with lost dogs, dodgy doors, and missing mantelpieces, allowing one eager audience member to get their five minutes of fame as they “assist” with the set.
Directed by Sean Turner, the show follows the unfortunate Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they attempt to perform Mousetrap-esque who-dunnit ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor’. If you don’t know the concept (although with numerous awards under its belt it would be more surprising if you were unfamiliar), it really is spelt out in the title. Everything that can go wrong, will do, in this farcical play within a play.
Despite debuting back in 2012, the touring cast brings fresh energy to The Play That Goes Wrong to make sure the decade old material doesn’t feel tired – unlike Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society director Chris Bean, played by Colin Burnicle, who is a self-described “man on the edge”. His disapproving glare at particularly uncouth theatre goers is perfection, and his quick retorts and rant about theatre etiquette directed at hecklers is one many in the theatre community wish they had the opportunity to voice. His escalating frustration at his inept cast only gets funnier throughout until you almost feel sympathetic towards his strenuous ordeal.
From Aisha Numah as Sandra, the on-stage poser, to Edi De Melo as Max who is so delighted to be on stage his grin infects every scene, every cast member is incredibly good at acting badly. Their determination to stick to the script, regardless of the current circumstances is both admirable and hilariously cringeworthy. You can’t fault Jonathan’s (played by Steven Rostance) commitment to his role of Charles Haversham as possibly the most abused dead man on stage and Dennis’s (Damien James) inability to remember his lines always gets a giggle.
Beth Lilly is magnificent as stage manager Annie who – quite literally at times – holds the set together, and invokes tummy-aching laughter when she seizes her chance at stardom in the role of leading-lady Florence. Annie isn’t the only character who gets unexpectedly roped onto the stage. Disgruntled lighting and sound operator Trevor, played by Gabriel Paul, is a comic gem whether he’s abusing his cues from the sound booth or embracing his hysterical side centre-stage.
Masses of credit goes to set designer Nigel Hook, who not only created an elaborate multi-tiered set, but made it fall apart so seamlessly – and presumably free of real injuries – it’s quite the engineering masterpiece.
Between the technical malfunctions, creative script adaptations, and the recurring physical mishaps, there is never ending laughter in this two hours of farcical fun.
Don’t miss your chance to watch The Play That Goes Wrong at the Curve, where it’s showing until 14th May. Buy tickets here: https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/the-play-that-goes-wrong-3/