Review: The Play That Goes Wrong (Touring)

Tuesday 28th September 2021 at the Grand Theatre and Opera House, York.


Mischief Comedy’s Olivier Award-winning show, The Play That Goes Wrong, is out on tour – and it’s certainly proving its position as an Olivier-winner. It’s farce at its best: a perfected illusion of spontaneous action which is as impressive in its precision as it is in its relentless energy.

So – in this quirky disaster-fest penned by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is putting on a murder mystery… and it’s not going very well. With a high-strung director herding a committed but diabolical cast around an increasingly precarious set, this show is calamity central all the way.

Unwavering commitment and plenty of gusto – that’s this cast in a nutshell. While the whole troupe impress, Tom Babbage is particularly impressive with his agile physical comedy (the shapes he shifts are a sight to behold) and the eventual stand off between star and stand-in is complete gold thanks to April Hughes’ gloriously self-indulgent star and Laura Kirman’s spot on portrayal of the novice who just can’t go back after hitting her stride.

Other glowing forces making themselves known throughout are direction for tour by Sean Turner (original direction by Mark Bell) and set design by Nigel Hook, both of which provide the cast with all they need to surprise and amuse us, from shifting furniture to brilliantly precise physical gags. Most impressive of all though is the sense of drilled precision pervading everything here. Every comic pause is perfectly timed. Extended pauses are perfectly built and perfectly collapsed. Every step of a running joke is perfectly embedded. Every crash and bang lands perfectly – with the inevitable comically late wallop landing with equal perfection. Rehearsal hours are written all over this, and it’s impossible to not feel the weight of the craft on display.

Whether farce is your usual bag of not, it’s well worth seeing this show for any one of the reasons above – put all the reasons together, and you might not want to miss it!

The Play That Goes Wrong is at The Grand Theatre and Opera House York until Sunday 3rd October 2021 and you can find tickets here.

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