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Guest Blog: Mikhail Sen on THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG!

The actor talks about taking on the role of Chris Bean in the slapstick comedy.

The Play That Goes Wrong

I stepped into the audition room for The Play That Goes Wrong with trepidation. It was my first in-person audition since 2020 and my nerves were on edge.

In preparation, I remember reading and re-reading the script and there were moments I literally could not stop howling with laughter (every time!). I'd never seen the show and I decided not to see it as I wanted to go into the room with no biases.

When my agent called to say that I'd been offered the role of Chris Bean I could not believe it. As a young actor from Bangalore this is what I'd dreamed of. I couldn't have asked for a better West End debut. Besides, any actor would give an arm and a leg to play Chris.

I'd soon discover that I would need to give more than just an arm and a leg. The play is insanely physical with a mix of stunts and slapstick that is designed to leave both audiences and performers breathless - if not rolling in the aisles. It's definitely one of the most demanding productions that I've ever done.

The Play That Goes Wrong
Mikhail Sen, Jaouhar Ben Ayed
a??a??a??a??& Tendai Humphrey Sitima

Playing Chris means having to balance two worlds. Chris is not only the Head of 'The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society' but also the Director of The Murder at Haversham Manor - the play that the Drama Society performs. As an actor, balancing two worlds through the delineations of 'a play within a play' has been both amazingly fun as well as a challenge.

What's been particularly challenging is the physical demands of the show. There's a certain moment in the show where I had to learn how to do a particular stunt (no spoilers). We had Jami Quarrell, the fight director, to help us master the stunt. Jami was brilliant. He made it seem so easy. Once he had left, however, I could feel the fear and anxiety start to mount. I kept asking myself, "What if...."

Our safe word in the show is 'cabbage.' So, if anyone feels slightly nervous or if things might actually go wrong, we're advised to use it. During one of the rehearsals, as I was preparing for the said stunt I could feel the fear mounting inside me. I meant to say 'cabbage' but the actual words that came out of my mouth were, "I'm a nervous cabbage." The rest of the cast burst out laughing and I haven't been able to live that down since.

Our rehearsal process was absolutely wonderful. Our cast are hugely talented and absolutely hilarious. The first week of rehearsal we worked backwards through the play tackling the end first - very fitting for this show. The chaos that ensues is magnificently orchestrated (if I do say so myself) and we learnt it almost as one would a dance. It's both virtuosic and dangerous, if that makes any sense, but that's exactly what we aim for: proper edge-of-your-seat stuff.

The Play That Goes Wrong
Mikhail Sen
& Tendai Humphrey Sitima

While everything's going wrong at Haversham Manor, what cannot afford to go wrong is the slapstick and physical gags. Precision is key and both our Associate Director, Sean Turner and Resident Director, Amy Milburn worked seamlessly with us so that the gags are firmly integrated into our bodies.

'It's all in the timing' is an oft-quoted saying in the theatre. It certainly rings true for The Play That Goes Wrong.' For me, returning to the stage after what's been an extremely difficult period for the world and having the opportunity to make people laugh is an absolute gift, very rewarding and extremely special. Come and see for yourself!

Book your tickets to the show now!

Photo Credit: Robert Day



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Guest Blog: Mikhail Sen on THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG!Guest Blog: Mikhail Sen on THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG!
May 11, 2022

I stepped into the audition room for The Play That Goes Wrong with trepidation. It was my first in person audition since 2020 and my nerves were on edge. In preparation, I remember reading and re-reading the script and there were moments I literally could not stop howling with laughter (every time!). I’d never seen the show and I decided not to see it as I wanted to go into the room with no biases.