BWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at Oriental Theatre

BWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at Oriental Theatre If there's one thing the world needs right now, it's more laughter. Sometimes we just need a few hours to set our brains to the side to rest while watching a show filled with hysterics and hijinks. There's plenty of all of that in the slapstick-filled farce, THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, running now at The Oriental Theatre.

The premise here is simple. The Cornley University Drama Society is presenting The Murder at Haversham Manor. We are let in on the gag before the curtain goes up as stagehands struggle last minute to fix set pieces, even inviting an audience member up on stage to assist. The director of the show within the show comes out to inform us it's their first time performing the show in front of an audience, and in the tradition of past low budget productions, they are going to do their very best.

From the very first entrance, the play goes, well ... wrong. Lines are dropped. Set pieces fall. Props are misplaced. Actors are knocked unconscious. Some even drink paint thinner. And it's hilarious!

Billed as "if Sherlock Holmes and Monty Python had an illegitimate Broadway baby," THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is pure fun. Writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields have penned a script packed with wordplay, sight gags, and pratfalls. It's Noises Off with an Agatha Christie twist.

The talented ensemble hits all the right (or should I say wrong) notes as they trip, bump, and slide through each scene. Ned Noyes as Max is particularly nimble and witty and takes charming delight in the audience's approval of his antics. Peyton Crim's stern presence and rich baritone make his Robert appear dashing and composed until he is stuck in one comprising situation after the next. As the stage manager who is forced to take over the female lead while carrying her script, Angela Grovy is a treat as we watch her insecurities fade and the role become hers. Rounding out the cast are Brandon J. Ellis, Scott Cote, Jamie Ann Romero, Yaegel T. Welch, and Evan Alexander Smith. All are experts at physical comedy and have impeccable timing.

Though a bit swallowed in the space and not the most polished, the set by Nigel Hook is full of tricks and traps that even the savviest performer couldn't outmaneuver. It would have been a treat to watch these actors work through tech with all of these moving parts.

This is quite an enjoyable night of theatre. If you don't need something that will change your view of the world, teach you a new lesson, or fill your head with contagious show tunes, this is the show for you. And it's well worth it. Grab a ticket and be ready to laugh. What could go wrong?


THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG runs through December 16 at The Oriental Theatre, 24 West Randolph, Chicago. For tickets, call (312) 977-1710 or visit

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From This Author Patrick Rybarczyk