BWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG Goes Right in Memphis
I left 'The Play that Goes Wrong' with a sore face from laughing so hard. Everything from the killer set to the outrageous mistakes the actors are supposed to make, combine together to make a hilarious night of theatre.
For those who are unfamiliar with this particular play, think of the comedy of Monty Python and combine that with the hilarity of the classic Three Stooges. Next, move those thoughts to an atmosphere similar to that of Clue or Sherlock Holmes, and then finally, picture all of that chaos smack dab in the middle of Coachella. There, you have The Play That Goes Wrong. Chaos. Laughter. Fun. And more chaos.
The play within a play starts even before the audience has taken their seats. Several actors are mingling in the audience, searching for last minute things needed for the play to start. Audience participation is key in these moments, especially when the stage hand (played by the talented Ashley D. Kelley) brings an audience member up to help her mend the set. The stage hand is rushing around the stage, doing her best to hide her face. The two "techies" as we theatre folk like to say, along with the rest of the cast, do a great job poking fun at both technical and performance sides of theatre. There are some comical jokes that immediately jump out at those of who us who have studied theatre; several times, my best friend and I were the only ones laughing in our section.
The curtain speech is live, bringing the audience into the story at once. From there, the merriment continues.
The show is full of physical comedy and some incredible technical magic. I have seen farces in my life but this one definitely takes the cake. As the show proceeds, the mistakes become more and more outrageous and the set is literally falling apart. It fascinated me to see how much could go wrong in one scene. But since it is SUPPOSED to go wrong, the audience can't really tell if something REALLY goes wrong. Right?
Put it this way. Everything is timed so exactly that one mistake could stop the whole show. The real message of the play is... the show must go on! The actors and stagehands are well trained but even so, it's a risky production. It takes an army to pull this show off and if you look in the back of your program, you will see just how many people it took to make this piece of magic happen.
The world obviously agrees that everyone should see this show. The Play That Goes Wrong premiered in London in 2012 and then went on to tour the UK in 2014. The play opened on Broadway in April 2017 and closed in January 2019. However, theatre goers were excited to see that it wasn't really closing; it merely transferred to Off-Broadway in February 2019, and is still playing at the New World Stages Theatre. A touring production in Australia opened in February 2017, and the US Tour launched in September 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It won the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design in a Play in 2017. It has been translated and licensed for productions in over 30 countries, including China, Greece, Spain, Germany, and India.
Every single actor in this production is to be commended for the very physical comedy, the delivery of their OVER-exaggerated lines, and the fact that very few of them ever left the stage. We even saw several of the actors mingling with the audience at intermission. My best to each and every one of you in this company and I wish you several days of well-deserved rest after you leave Memphis.
The Play that Goes Wrong runs until February 9th at the Orpheum Theatre-Memphis, and makes for a fun and entertaining night out.