One of my pet hates in life is when people give away the plot line to a book. This pet hate is only heightened when it turns to drama. Not really knowing what to expect before entering, The Play That Goes Wrong is quite frankly what it says on the tin. Letting us in on the world of unsuccessful and extremely humorous amateur dramatics, Mark Bell and Kenny Wax’s production of The Play That Goes Wrong provides the audience with slapstick comedy at its best.
Everything goes wrong during the preparation for the Cornley Polytechnic’s version of ‘Murder at Haversham Manor’. With the play beginning in the foyer of Cardiff’s New Theatre, the cast were chaotically seen running around the auditorium and reception areas attempting to find the missing dog for their play- immediately setting up the confusion and madness that was about to be revealed on stage. Think prop malfunctions, forgotten lines, and collapsing stages and set; name any possible thing that could go wrong in a production, and I absolutely guarantee it happens at some point in this play.
Something that is integral to a play of this nature is actors who excel in their field. Essentially performing as two roles, each actor takes on the persona of a student from Cornley Polytechnic University who is impersonating a character in ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor’.
There were some fantastic performances from Patrick Warner (Chris) and Alastair Kirton (Max) whose comic timing was outstanding. The delivery of both of their lines, and the wit that permeated through their performances allowed for perfect comic timing, which highlighted their skill and ability from the offset. Fantastic contributions were also presented by Edward Judge (Robert). Judge’s stage presence was second to none. Clinging on to tables and chairs on a platform, whilst the other characters were scared out of their wits, Judge epitomised the comic value of this play.
Despite it being no fault of the actors or directors, it has to be said that the humour was sometimes quite overtly forced, and much of the play could have been condensed into a one-act play. This would ensure that the audience were fully captivated until the very end of the play.
To understand the genre of the play, perhaps blend Mrs Brown’s Boys and Fawlty Towers with The Mechanicals performance of Pyramus and Thisbe in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As weird as this may sound, The Play That Goes Wrong offers a great night out, especially if you are in need of having a totally different experience of theatre.
Review by George Caulton