The Play That Goes Wrong was written and first put forth in 2012 in London, England. Writers, Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields wrote a clever slapstick play.
As a winner of the Lawrence Olivier Awards in 2015, this play has a lot of laughs and fun for the audience. It is a play within a play—The Murder at the Haversham Manor is the play that is presented to us.
Set in Charles Haversham's study, we are confronted with his murder, or are we? The show's parody has the usual suspects: The butler, Perkins, the girlfriend, the detective, and the other suspects, who at times we are not sure who did the murder.
As the show goes on, we are confronted with another murder, of Cecil Haversham, when the brother of Charles is also murdered. The plot thickens and so do the laughs and the slapstick comedy.
Forgotten lines, scotch being replaced by paint remover, and fingers being stepped on are just the beginning. Nigel Hook's brilliant scenic design is all part of the fun in this play. It seems that the set designed for this play cannot stay in tack. From the mantle piece, to the elevator, and to the floor boards, nothing stays in place in this fast paced, brilliant comedy.
In trying to keep it together, missed lines, misquoted words, and actors getting knocked out add to the charm. Add a discombobulated lighting and sound designer and you have the makings for a raucous show.
I first saw this show last year at the Lyceum theater. It was fun there and it transferred to the World Stages nicely. The stage is smaller here, so the set had to be shortened and Hook was up to the task. The direction was also kept at its brisk pace and is as enjoyable as it was at the Lyceum.
All of the actors were terrific. I thought the role of Thomas Colleymoore was exceptional. Funny, deft, and articulate, both he and the inspector were standouts. The exchanges between the two made The Play That Goes Wrong a great play.
Roberto Surace's costumes were terrific. Set up in old 1920's England, Surace hit the costumes on the mark. Old tweeds, knickers, and frock dresses were the makings of drawing room murder and suspense.
Slapstick comedy can get old very fast, but here it doesn't. We go from one debacle to the next—from lines being read backwards, to the missing dog, and on to the set collapsing.
The audience waits for the next guffaw and is never let down. This hapless theater group just can't get anything right. Try as they may, but it is just not going to go right for them.
The Play That Goes Wong is at the World Stages on 50th Street. It is an open run show. If you haven't seen it, you should not miss it. If you were lucky enough to see it at the Lyceum, it is worth seeing again. A great comedy is one not to be missed live, and this play is right on the mark.
About the author
I have been writing on theater since 1982. A graduate from Manhattan College B.S. A member of Alpha Sigma Lambda, which recognizes excellence in both English and Science. I have produced 12 shows on and off Broadway. I've seen over700 shows