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The Play That Goes Wrong at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Published by: Cameron Lowe on 11th Mar 2014 | View all blogs by Cameron Lowe

If there is a play in existence with a more apt title than “The Play That Goes Wrong”, I have yet to see it!  Mischief Theatre have crafted 100 minutes of mirth and mayhem that had me laughing until I hurt … and then I laughed some more!

The Play That Goes Wrong

This week, Glasgow’s King’s Theatre plays host to a play within a play as a fictional group of not-so-talented am-dramers  (the
Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society) present “The Murder At Haversham Manor” as the accurately titled “Play That Goes Wrong”.  And boy, does it go wrong!

Before curtain up we are treated to a performance of outstanding incompetence as the “stage crew” attempt to set the stage.  From the opening introduction by Director “Chris” (stiffly portrayed by Henry Shields who had more than a hint of John Cleese about his persona) we are in no doubt that we are about to be entertained by a troupe bearing a remarkable heritage of disastrous am-dram flops. 

The curtain rises and we are entertained by shameless overacting from the players, outlandish and unconvincing characters and a broad disrespect of “the fourth wall”.  This is all delightfully OTT and delivered to wring maximum laughs from the outset.  But this would become tired quite quickly … if the writers did not have an endless supply of acting faux-pas and theatrical cock-ups waiting in the wings; each one more calamitous than the last!  Prop mix ups, prat falls, disintegrating sets, dropped lines, slapstick, badly timed entrances … every single one a disaster in its own right; enough to send any self-respecting amateur fleeing from the stage and these are all presented in one show in all of their awkward, heart stopping, nightmare inducing glory.  And we laughed so hard!

Henry Lewis (as Robert playing Thomas Collymoore) gives a great comic portrayal of the victim’s school chum with a particular highlight as he tries to break a dialog loop through unspoken purple faced rage.  Charlie Russell (as Sandra) gives a delightfully unconvincing performance as femme fatal Florence Collymoore and becomes the victim of some spectacular physical gaffs.  Dave Hearn is the prat-fall king as Max (playing Cecil Haversham) and Jonathan Sayer is the youthful Dennis who is superbly miscast as the aging Perkins.  Lotti Maddox develops her character beautifully to hilarious effect as Annie (the reluctant understudy).

Mischief Theatre accept a What's On Stage Award

Direction from Mark Bell expertly balanced the tight timing required for such a complex piece of physical theatre with just enough leeway for the actors to thoroughly enjoy the performance and give the audience a feeling that everything was spontaneous.  Nigel Hook’s set design was inspired; adding significantly to the laughs.  The script from Mischief Theatre’s own writing team of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields was truly the star of this outstanding show.

Miss this at your peril!

Review by Cameron Lowe, for Sue


Mon 10 – Sat 15 March GLASGOW King's Theatre

Eves: 7.30pm; Mats: Wed & Sat 2.30pm                  

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee) (bkg fee)



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