The play that goes wrong
Mischief Theatre quite literally brought the house down with The Play that Goes Wrong!
It started in chaos, ended in chaos and the middle was quite chaotic too. But, oh so funny! It was in the finest tradition of You’ve been framed, Michael Frayn’s Noises Off and the Portsmouth Symphonia.
You might have caught Mischief’s version of Peter Pan on television at Christmas. The Play that Goes Wrong is also slapstick, knockabout comedy and the audience was more than tickled, it was convulsed! One lady at the end of our row laughed all the way through.
The drama started before we reached the auditorium. Winston the Springer Spaniel has gone missing and the stage crew, Trevor (Graeme Rooney) and Annie (Katie Bernstein), ask for our help in the search.
The story, such as it is, concerns the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s production of Murder at Haversham Manor. Charles Haversham (Jason Callender) is dead in the library – well, maybe not that dead. Inspector Carter (Patrick Warner) arrives with little clue – or little clue who might have perpetrated the heinous crime. Was it fiancee flighty Florence Colleymore ( Meg Mortell) or her jealous brother Thomas Colleymore (Edward Judge)? Or Charles’ brother, stage struck Cecil (Alastair Kirton) in love with Flighty Florrie? Or maybe Perkins (Edward Howells) the butler.
‘Problems with props’ could easily be the subtitle, since most of the heightened drama comes out of mischievous props: telephone cables are too short, nothing stays on the wall for long, whole sections of wall fall on poor actors. There’s a Buster Keaton moment that did look as though it went wrong for real when a wall fell on poor Perkins and it must have hurt.
The supreme set itself was so shaky that I suspected that it murdered Charles on its own! It was a Health and Safety nightmare! Inspector Carter was head butted by a heraldic shield, a door was opened too enthusiastically and polished off not one but two Flighty Florries. Yes, Annie, over-worked prop controller, had to take over when original Florrie was knocked out and far-from-surreptitiously (and indecorously) removed through the ‘window’.
In short, it’s a hoot. Anyway, whodunit? There’s a twist to end all twists which knocks The Mousetrap into a cocked hat . . . directed by Mark Bell, the play will be going wrong until 28-01-17
The play continues on tour and will be going wrong at Wolverhampton Grand 3-8 April.