Review: THE SHOW THAT GOES WRONG at Chagrin Valley Little Theatre

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at CLVT is amateur theatre at its funny best

By: Jun. 06, 2023
Review: THE SHOW THAT GOES WRONG at Chagrin Valley Little Theatre

In 1923 there was THE TORCHBEARERS.  In 1982 the stage was filled with hysterical disasters during NOISES OFF.  Now there is THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, the zany Laurence Olivier Award winner.
All three farces are plays about plays in which evaerything that could go wrong on stage does, and then some!
Even before the performance officially starts, the audience quickly knows that things are not theater-normal.  
Members of the cast wander the stage, working on the set, and ask the audience to help them find a lost dog that is needed for the show, but has escaped from backstage.  A “member of the audience” is dragged up on stage to help mend a broken mantelpiece while techies try and repair pieces of shoddy scenery with masking tape.  Yes, this looks like a disaster in the making.

The “director” of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, tells us about the group.  He explains their financial problems and their productions of such economic-restricted stagings as JAMES AND THE PEACH (without the peach) and CATS (yes, without a cat).   

No wonder with their financial problems the set for THE MURDER AT HAVERSHAM MANOR, which we are about to see, looks like it is about to fall down.  (Woops, plot revelation alert!)

In the process of the production, doors jam, windows fall out, set pieces fall off, a platform collapses in a series of slow drops with members of the cast perched on it. Chaos reigns.  

There are line flubs, late entrances, cast members are knocked out by doors which are opened at the wrong time, misplaced props, missed cues, line repetitions, wrong liquids drunk, mispronunciations, cast substitutions mid-play, physical violence between actors and the eventual collapse of the entire set.  

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG opened on Broadway in April, 2017, following a long London run.  The play then moved off-Broadway in February of 2019 and is still running.

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is farce at its highest level.  Shtick, prat-falls, fisticuffs, double-takes, thrown glass vases, and a swordfight complete with swords that break, are all included.  
Director Michael J. Rogan must have had a blast directing this and didn’t have to be concerned that he was directing an amateur cast.  It is a perfect show for amateur theatres, as really good acting would run the whole premise.

Oh, and then there is the dog.  Well, much as the rabbit in HARVEY, an imaginary dog who plays a vital role in the plot.  (Come on now, could I make this up?)

The cast, Julian Kruyne (Trevor), Christopher Bizub (Chris), Brandon Paul Ferris (Jonathan), Greg A. Smith (Robert), Kevin Derrick (Dennis), Laura Telepak (Sandra), Miron Gusso (Max) and Bekah Neubecker (Annie) form into a unit that plays off each other to create a symphony of hysteria.  

Kudos to the backstage crew, who actually make the whole thing work:  Victor Bernardo, David Bruney, Kaitlyn Hope Poschner, Sarah Dellinger and John Telepak.

Tom West not only designed a set that works perfectly, but must be a mechanical genius to have devised all the set disasters. 
Steven J. Madden choreographed some terrific stunts.
Capsule Judgment:  Like any farce, the quality of the ridiculousness is only as effective as the cast and director.  In the case of THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, all of the needed elements are present and laughter reigns.  Go! Laugh! Forget the angst of the world.  HAMLET this ain’t!
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG runs through June 18, 2023 at Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, followed by KINKY BOOTS from July 21-August 12, 2023.
For tickets call 440-247-8955.


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From This Author - Roy Berko

Roy Berko, a life-long Clevelander, holds degrees, through the doctorate from Kent State, University of Michigan and The Pennsylvania State University. Roy was an actor for many years, appearing in mo... Roy Berko">(read more about this author)


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