BWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at the Ahmanson Theatre
No one carries off a farce better than the Brits. It seems like they invented it just as we Americans invented the musical. Mischief Theatre first presented The Play That Goes Wrong in 2015 and then it came to Broadway in 2017. Now it is on tour, currently onstage at the Ahmanson until August 11. I cannot think of a better word to describe it than INSANITY. Most farces have slamming doors, pratfalls galore, double entendres, and mistaken identities. But when the slapstick turns into entire sets collapsing, as well as actors moving about helter skelter - including a walking corpse - in nonstop fashion? The Play That Goes Wrong is unlike any other farce you may have seen. To say you will laugh uproarisouly is an understatement. Naturally, it will appeal to all actors and theatre lovers who know that live, anything can happen onstage. The Play That Goes Wrong carries it to the furthest extreme.
There are really no political comments or intelligent perspectives on anything, just mad silliness and slapstick...and a cast that are all exceedingly adept at physical comedy and talking very, very fast. This is a play within a play. Within The Play That Goes Wrong, The Cornley University Drama Society is presenting Murder at Haversham Manor. Our actors portray the characters within the murder mystery as well as the British actors portraying them. There are many asides where the actors step out of character and address - or attack - the audience. "Stop laughing!" one actor blurted out strongly. "This is deadly serious and you musn't laugh!" Of course, the audience continued their hysteria.
I will not give away the plot, as in this type of play you must experience it for yourself. Actually what you take in of the storyline is next to impossible to remember; it goes in one ear and out the other. I want to mention just one amazingly executed what I call feat by two actors. They are trying to hold things on the wall, which will not stay in place. While holding a portrait over the mantelpiece of an English cocker spaniel, one must reach the phone in order to answer it. The other is trying to keep the door from falling off and somehow manages to take a notebook from the butler with his face, move it onto the flat surface of the wall and write in it with a pen, without using his hands. Brilliant!
The cast of eight include: Brandon J. Ellis as Trevor the lighting and sound man, Angela Grovey as Annie, the stage manager, Evan Alexander Smith as Chris Bean, Yaegel T. Welch, Peyton Crim, Scott Cote, Jamie Ann Romero and Ned Noyes. Ellis and Grovey are onstage at least 15 minutes before the play starts trying to make parts of the set work, which, by the way designed by Nigel Hook, is an awe inspiring work of art. It won both Tony and Drama Desk Awards.
Don't miss The Play That Goes Wrong through August 11 at the Ahmanson! The ensemble will take your breath away.
(photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)