BWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is Brilliant Slapstick Comedy

BWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is Brilliant Slapstick Comedy

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is a comedy by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields of Mischief Theatre Company that won Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards. Mischief Theatre Company have also written Peter Pan Goes Wrong which opened at London's Apollo Theatre in December 2015 starring the same cast. They have also done a spoof of Dickens A Christmas Carol, all with the same frenetic pace and trademark extreme physical comedy. It's like the hyperactive child of Noises Off gone off their meds.

Before the play even begins the audience is being set up by seeing the backstage staff making last-minute adjustments to the set, including trying to mend a broken mantlepiece, locate the sound man's Duran Duran CD and a dog that has run off. There is a curtain speech from the director of the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, in which he recounts such past triumphs as The Lion and The Wardrobe, James and the Peach (which, once the peach rotted, became James, Where's your Peach?) and their summer musical Cat. Finally having the correct number of actors, the company is staging The Murder at Haversham Manor - a 1920s murder mystery play, which is similar to the plays of Agatha Christie.

What ensues is every possible disaster that can happen during live theatre, from doors not opening to missing props to floors collapsing. Cast members are seen forgetting lines, getting knocked unconscious and being yanked off stage, missing cues, breaking character, having to drink paint thinner instead of whiskey, mispronouncing words, stepping on hands, being hidden in a grandfather clock, all coming to a grand climax that is a tribute to the silent Buster Keaton classic, Steamboat Bill, Jr.

The tour director, Matt Dicarlo, based on the original Broadway direction of Mark Bell, provides maximum laughs with some truly inspired extreme physical comedy. Nigel Hook's set design is a marvelous spoof of bad community theatre sets. Roberto Surace's costumes are perfect as is the original mood setting music of Rob Falconer.

The cast is terrific and a fine batch of farcuers. Working together like a fine tuned machine are: Brandon J. Ellis, Evan Alexander Smith, Yagel T. Welch, Peyton Crim, Scott Cote, Jamie Ann Romero, Ned Noyes and Angela Grovey. Each member of the company has their moment to shine and their group timing is impeccable.

What was not so delightful were the new policies in place at Bass Concert Hall. You now must empty your pockets, pass through metal detectors with your hands over your head and be wanded. The staff at Bass Concert Hall were clearly not ready and were extremely rude and brusque with one single exception. I personally will have to think long and hard before I return. Women must also carry a transparent purse, as actual purses are now banned. Also, be sure you are prepared to purchase a beverage or wait til after, as all water fountains are out of commission due to Austin water problems.

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields
Running Time: Approximately Two Hours plus 20 minute intermission.

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG produced by Lexus Broadway in Austin, at Bass Concert Hall (2350 Robert Dedman Drive).
October 23-28. For tickets visit

Please note that procedures have changed drastically at Bass Concert Hall.
Purses are no longer allowed unless they are transparent. You must also empty your pockets and pass through metal detectors and be wanded. Staff are brusque.

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From This Author Frank Benge

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