In London, it is playing at one of the West End's smallest playhouses, and feels full of homespun charm. On Broadway, on a larger stage, it seems to have found the courage to take even bigger risks. The result is not just the funniest play on Broadway at the moment, but also one that demonstrates that the London fringe can still act as a launch pad to bigger things. Broadway is sure to take this show to its heart. A long run seems likely.
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG Broadway Reviews
Reviews of The Play That Goes Wrong on Broadway. See what all the critics had to say and see all the ratings for The Play That Goes Wrong including the New York Times and More...
"The Play That Goes Wrong" is a nonstop, intensifying rush in which the murder mystery is performed from beginning to end...The eight performers have individual personalities but come together to form a tight ensemble well-disciplined in the art of being hilariously bad.
The Play That Goes Wrong features an utterly terrible fictional script executed utterly terribly by a terrible group of fictional actors, enveloped in a real-life brilliant script executed brilliantly by a very real and very brilliant group of actors. You only realize you've been smiling, gasping and laughing for nearly two hours when it comes to not smiling upon your return to the regular world.
"Wrong" isn't interested in the relationship between its characters and the ones they portray in the play-within-a-play. It's more lowbrow, interested in the gag and shameless in how it gets it: sometimes incredibly inventively, but sometimes going for the low-hanging fruit. (A special nod goes to sound designer Andrew Johnson who created the various bonks, splats, and crashes.)...It's clear from the beginning - even before the beginning with its pre-show shtick - that wrong will be just right. But it takes a while before the laughs come at full speed.
Admittedly, two hours of nonstop pandemonium gets exhausting, and even with the intriguing character development (or degeneration), the curtain comes as a bit of a relief. (You can only cringe so many times before getting a cramp.) But on the whole, The Play That Goes Wrong is just right: A ridiculously entertaining disaster.
Mark Bell has directed, and under his expert hand the performances all go wrong; the scenery goes wrong, to catastrophic effect; even the sound cues go wrong, and when was the last time you heard sound cues generating applause? All told, The Play That Goes Wrong goes uproariously right.
"The Play That Goes Wrong," the winner of London's Olivier for best comedy, finds the line that separates the annoying and stupid from the I-can't-believe-I'm-laughing-at-this brilliance. And when the company aptly called the Mischief Theatre hits that line, which it does over and over, resistance is ultimately futile.
The exceptional direction of the piece, by Mark Bell, embraces risk and danger to an extraordinary extent. That means "The Play That Goes Wrong" never seems safe or comfortable in its own skin - the tricked-out design by Nigel Hook is exceptionally clever and suffused with booby traps of considerable aesthetic imagination, but it remains persistently tawdry, as it should be, of course. And thus at no point is "The Play That Goes Wrong" one of those smug, accomplished London imports, sets collapsing on cue and well-spoken farceurs risking nothing.
Farce is not an acquired taste; even babies laugh at pratfalls. Rather, farce is the taste you fail to grow out of - and thank God, because sometimes only the stupidest fun will do. If this is one of those times, then "stupidest fun" should probably be plastered on the walls of the Lyceum, where The Play That Goes Wrong, a backstage comedy created by England's Mischief Theatre Company, is opening tonight. It's so ridiculous it makes you feel almost ashamed to love it.
All the context you'll need to deal with at the Lyceum's latest offering, Britain's Mischief Theatre import, The Play That Goes Wrong, is right there in the title. Forgoing pesky details like plot and character development, the two-act evening of visual gags - some worthy of a Mack Sennet silent - pieced together by bits of verbal silliness is one of those endeavors that charges onto the stage as a force of choreographed chaos, bombarding the audience with so many jabs to the funny bone that even if only a third of them strike properly you're in for a sufficient number of laughs.
‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ Broadway Review: JJ Abrams Presents a British Farce With a Thick Slice of Ham
"The Play That Goes Wrong" sometimes threatens to outstay its welcome and dissipate its considerable charms over time. There is, after all, a fine line between repetition for comic effect and the tedium of beating a punchline until it is good and dead. But the Broadway production is considerably tighter than the one that played two years ago on London's West End...For much of its two-hour running time, "The Play That Goes Wrong" offers a hilarious tribute to the spirit of the theater and the mantra that the show must go on - served up with a thick slice of ham.
I propose putting your rational mind into sleep mode, the better to savor tickling images of order-inverting bizarreness, straight out of Dada, in which suddenly nothing is in its customary place or being used for its customary purpose. There's a wild, redeeming poetry in such anarchy. My audience, for the record, roared as loudly as the crowds at any wrestling match.
If you want to have a good time at this show, chances are good that you will; there are many funny sequences, and I laughed a lot. But you may find it rather exhausting. With almost no baseline reality from which to depart, the show is all payoffs and no setups; it's like a stand-up routine consisting only of punch lines
Trying to describe why a comedy strikes you as unfunny is about as fruitless as trying to describe why it had you in stitches. "The Play That Goes Wrong" falls squarely into the category of things that you'll like if you like that sort of thing. (See: The Three Stooges, performance art involving self-mutilation, cruises aboard megaships.) I can't say I had to climb over patrons rolling in the aisles as I made my way out of the theater, but duty demands that I report that portions of the audience appeared to find the antics worthy of exercising their diaphragm muscles, even as the authors return to the shallow waters of their comic well repeatedly. (A joke about whiskey being replaced, for no logical reason, with a more toxic brew, causing the actors to sputter and spew, was worn threadbare well before intermission.)
You either go for this sort of thing or you don't -- I don't, particularly, but I was in the minority at a recent performance. "The Play That Goes Wrong" works best when you believe the actors are in real danger. There are times you do. I might've enjoyed it as a 70-minute romp. As things stand, for me at least, a comedy this tired just can't be right.
An overabundance of non-sensical sight gags, slow burns, pratfalls, missed cues, wink-winks and the like dull the viewer's senses and drag out a sophomoric sketch that would be sharper and funnier at an intermissionless 80 minutes. On the other hand, staged with more commitment than panache by Mark Bell, The Play That Went Wrong aspires to no higher goal than escapism untainted by North Korea, Trump, Putin, the opening of the baseball season, Neil Gorsuch, and possibly striking writers. As George W. Bush said, mission accomplished.
A comedy that comes up short with laughs and overstays its welcome - now that's murder.
The production certainly fulfills its modest creative aspirations. The actors are very good at being bad and are so daring with the outrageous physical comedy that we often fear for their safety. There's no paucity of wit to the proceedings, and director Mark Bell stages the action with clockwork precision. Nigel Hook's purposefully cheesy set design deserves special commendation, rivaling Disney's Haunted Mansion with the ingenuity of its surprises. But for all the strenuous effort involved, the repetitive show evaporates in your mind the moment it concludes.