Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at Center Stage Theatre

Through April 28, 2024.

By: Apr. 21, 2024
Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at Center Stage Theatre
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On Saturday, April 20th, I had the pleasure of seeing another first-rate production from Center Stage Theatre, in Shelton, CT, THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer & Henry Shields!  Director Betsy Kelso helps bring out the best in this amazing cast!  It is clear that the entire cast is having as wonderful a time performing their roles as the audience is having watching them perform!  It is always exciting to watch a play within a play, since, when well performed, it contains that extra comedic element that leaves the audience questioning whether certain moments were scripted or ad-libbed.  This cast knows exactly how to create that realistic feeling that effectively elevates this show to true greatness!  As someone who was not previously familiar with THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, I tremendously enjoyed this farce!

One of the great stand-out parts of the Center Stage Theatre shows I have seen is that the audience is kept entertained by cast members, in character, the entire time we are there.  This includes when we first arrive before the show has officially started and during the intermission. 

This show has the most spectacular set I have ever seen!  The two-story set that is deliberately designed to malfunction and even fall apart throughout the show adds tremendously to the comedic impact of this production!  I give the cast members a lot of credit for their constant alertness and sharp awareness of their surroundings.  Serious injury, even death, could occur to cast and crew members if they were in the wrong places at the wrong times, as parts of this set fall apart.  This adds to the comedic shock value of the show, especially during one moment when it was not totally clear, to the audience, at the time, whether the sudden collapse of a part of the set was intentional.   Lead by Scott Sheldon, many people worked hard to contribute to this phenomenal set! 

This stellar cast includes Melanie Byron as Annie, Hunter Smith as Trevor, Terrance Peters as Chris/Inspector Carter, David Kaminski as Jonathan/ Charles Haversham, Scott Sheldon as Robert/Thomas Colleymore, Lucy Babbitt as Denise/Perkins, Briana Lawson as Sandra/ Florence Colleymore, and Paul Keegan, who steals the show, as Max/Cecil Haversham, and as Arthur the Gardener.  Also included are Lindsey Campbell, Payton Goodwin, and Candice Sisbarro as the Cornley Drama Society stage crew.  It is clear that the entire cast worked very hard on this production.   This cast has excellent stage chemistry with each other and strong stage presences.  Their positive energy resonates throughout the audience.   Their talents truly shine!

The show within the show is a murder mystery called The Murder at Haversham Manor.    While all the exciting elements of a murder mystery are present, challenging the audience to solve the mystery, we are also entertained by the intentional farce that is created by all the deliberate errors by cast members and intentional malfunctions of the set.  The show itself is about a college Drama Society’s ineptness at successfully sticking to the intended and scripted story, while performing in front of a live crowd.  Beyond the set falling apart, there are plenty of other intentional mistakes within the show.   Cast members getting injured on the set, doors not opening, props breaking or not being in the right places, lines being forgotten or mispronounced, the spotlight being out of place, sound effects being the wrong ones or coming at the wrong times, an allegedly deceased character moving himself around the stage, and the dog never making it to the stage are among the hilarious mishaps that create this intentional comedy of errors.  My favorite two comedic error moments include a sword fight without swords (the actors saying, “ching, ching, ching…” to create the sound effects), and two actresses in a vicious physical fight against each other, with foreign objects, over both wanting to perform the same role. 

I highly recommend THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, which is scheduled to continue to run at Center Stage Theatre, in Shelton, CT, through April 28, 2024.  For times and tickets, please go to the link below.


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