Quick Change Review: The Play That Goes Wrong (Tour)
If you try to explain The Play That Goes Wrong to somebody who hasn’t seen the show, they’ll probably think you’ve gone bananas.
Why would anybody care to see a group of professional actors pretend to be part of a poor amateur dramatics company staging a murder mystery wherein everything that could go wrong, does?
The answer quite simply is, it’s a laugh a minute. Then recover from the laugh. For the joke to resurface and set you off again.
The ensemble class present a masterclass in comedic timing. Challenged with portraying at least two roles each; their drama club character, and their role in the play within the play, they have their work cut out.
Crucially, they also have to go the full two hours without laughing. This, whilst the audience is largely in hysterics.
As the Director of The Murder At Haversham Manor , Chris Bean (Colin Burnicle is the “real life” actor’s name) is strangely endearing. With furrowed, sweaty brows, he becomes increasingly more distressed as his debut unravels into chaos and whilst also starring as Inspector Carter in his show, he tries to keep his tardy cast together.
This is no easy feat. His leading lady, Sandra as Florence Collymore (Aisha Numah) is a seductress in both parts - prior to being knocked out on several occasions by a door that selectively opens and closes.
Her role is then passed over to the Stage Manager, Annie (Beth Lilly), a Northern lass who transitions from a shy wallflower to a spotlight-hungry diva.
Sound Tech, Trevor (Gabriel Paul) is enlisted to assist when both girls are out (one's behind the sofa, the other's in a grandfather clock). He takes a break from missing sound cues to tackle a scene in which a scandalous affair is discovered!
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Luckily, the remaining cast members are doing all they can to keep the show on track. Max (Edi De Melo) plays an enthusiastic Cecil, delivering his lines with gusto, pride, and wild hand movements. It's clear his parents must be in the audience for this one.
As Thomas Collymore, Robert (Kazeem Tosin Amore) does his best to ensure the show goes on. What he lacks in remembering his lines, he makes up for in physical agility. Even when the set is falling apart around him and he's balancing on a balcony edge, he holds everything up and still takes inconveniently timed phone calls that help to move the plot (there is one in there, somewhere) along.
Dennis’ (Damien James) portrayal of Perkins, a butler with a service of 80 years, shows as much dedication to his role in the murder mystery play. His mispronunciation of certain words is subtle but expertly timed.
Whilst he is supposed to be dead, and therefore absent from much of the show, Jonathon (Steven Rostance) as Charles Haversham has quite the stage presence – although, he probably shouldn't.
Amidst the chaos of falling set walls, spontaneous fires, and misplaced props, this motley crew persevere. With a little improvisation and a lot of determination, the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society deliver a play that absolutely goes right. Even if it is The Play That Goes Wrong.
It’s mischief, managed.