The Play That Goes Wrong at the Rose Theatre, Kingston - review

The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong - Credit: Archant

Two years ago, I took part in my first (and probably last) amateur pantomime. I played the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. Complete with wand and swishy dress, I felt like nothing could go wrong in the face of such magic and glamour. Until the ballroom clock fell on my head, causing a mild concussion, half way through Act One.

Luckily for me, all this happened off stage, but it was enough of a humiliation for me to empathise with the unfortunate actors in Mischief Theatre’s comedy, The Play That Goes Wrong, directed by Mark Bell.

This side-splitting play, written by cast members, Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, is based on an amateur murder mystery play that quickly descends into chaos and farce. They get the tone spot on from the start, as mishaps of increasing severity happen to the actors on stage.

Henry Shields plays the beleaguered play’s director and murder mystery policeman, moving from mild irritation to the brink of a nervous breakdown as he his work crashes around his ears - literally at some points. His cast includes Greg Tannahill as the corpse who just won’t keep still; Charlie Russell as the sexually aggressive, bereaved fiancée; Dave Hearn as her accident prone love interest and Jonathan Sayer as a butler with the unfortunate habit of mispronouncing key words. Henry Lewis tries to keep it all together with split-second comic timing as the murder victim’s best friend.

Backstage support takes prominent centre stage for once too, with Rob Falconer’s laconic sound operator, Trevor, causing audio havoc with mixed up sound effects and Nancy Wallinger’s excitable stage manager, thrust unwillingly into the limelight when the leading lady takes a blow to the head.

The play follows a typical farcical pattern, with the mishaps getting bigger and bigger as the action develops. However, it remains faithful to the adage, the play must go on, even as the actors stand with fallen flats and broken and bloodied props all around them, courtesy of set designer, Nigel Hook, at the end of the show. This is a truly hilarious play that will speak volumes to anyone with the remotest connection to the world of amateur dramatics. It takes a truly talented cast to portray such dreadful actors on stage and The Play The Goes Wrong completely belies its title in its genius.