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The Play That Goes Wrong - Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Louise Winter on 14th Mar 2017 | View all blogs by Louise Winter

Reviewed by Louise Winter 13th March 2017

 TPTG Helen Murray

Image copyright Helen Murray

This very silly, very exhausting, highly physical play from the "Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society" is a result of their attempt at putting on of a 1920's whodunnit 'Murder at Haversham Manor'.

As the audience takes their seats, stagehands Trevor and Annie are pottering about trying to fix parts of the set and with things already going wrong a member of the audience is dragged up to 'help out'. Gradually becoming aware of the antics on stage, the audience starts laughing away and it is clear what sort of daft events and are going to unfold. Even before the play-within-a-play has started the stage is well and truly set for disaster!

TPTGW Helen Murray 

image copyright Helen Murray

Once the pompous director of Cornley Poly, playing lead Inspector Carter has formally introduced the play, gaining plenty of laughs along the way, we hit the ground running so to speak; this play starts as it means to go on and everything that can go wrong does so from the outset. There's no lead into the chaos of the show gradually falling apart, but instead it doees so from the first minute: forgotton lines, missed cues, collapsing scenery, misplaced or broken props, injured actors and so on. There is not a moment's pause and starting at such a high point means that by the end it is positively manic.  From the start it is bedlam and whilst some of the audience loved this descent into slapstick and disaster from the start, barely able to breathe through their guffawing hysterics, others seemed to regard it as all a bit too much too soon. If highly farcical comedies such as Fawlty Towers are considered (and director Bean incorporates some of Basil's traits and responses), or Noises Off for example, the extreme physicality and damage done to characters along with the ridiculousness of some of the scenes was made more so by the subtlety and 'normality' of other aspects. This balance seems to be lacking here. Regardless of individual taste this is a very enjoyable multi-award winning show! 

TPTGW Helen Murray

image copyright Helen Murray

Harry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shield wrote this play when they were all working in uninspiring, poorly paid employment and then performing at night. A dedicated trio who hit the jackpot with this and such is its appeal to a wide audience I can't see that it will ever going to stop touring. Milton Keynes is dealing with a sell-out show here and literally had only a couple of seats left so you may have to go out of town to see it.

I have never heard an audience laugh so much and with such abandon. Members of the cast cannot be singled out for praise. This is an ensemble piece, they are all incredible in their commitment and their energy. All deserve the highest accolades, I hope they are on danger money such is the potential for ‘real’ injuries!

The Play That Goes Wrong is at MK Theatre until Saturday 18th March

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 (bkg fee)

Groups Hotline: 01908 547609

Access Booking: 0844 872 7677

Online Booking: (bkg fee)




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