Ev­ery­thing’s Right for “The Play That Goes Wrong”

Where Melbourne - - Contents - By Jenny Burns

AF­TER WOWING AU­DI­ENCES around the world it’s Mel­bourne’s turn to ex­pe­ri­ence the ‘dis­as­ter’ that is “The Play That Goes Wrong”. And the show’s di­rec­tor, Sean Turner, is con­fi­dent it will be a hit. “We have taken the show to a num­ber of coun­tries around the world and au­di­ences have loved it,” said Turner, who has come from the UK show to di­rect the Aus­tralian pro­duc­tion. The show con­tin­ues to play to packed au­di­ences in the UK and makes its de­but on Broadway this month. Speak­ing a week be­fore its of­fi­cial Mel­bourne open­ing, Turner’s love of the play comes to the fore.

“It re­ally is an en­ter­tain­ing, fun play which I think is one of the rea­sons why it’s so pop­u­lar,” he ex­plains.

“It’s an es­cape from ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pen­ing in the world and is great en­ter­tain­ment for the whole fam­ily. It’s just so won­der­ful to hear and see peo­ple of all ages and na­tion­al­i­ties con­tin­u­ally laugh­ing out loud.

“The play it­self is also a Cin­derella story.”

The show is the brain­child of en­sem­ble mem­bers of Mis­chief The­atre, an im­prov the­atre com­pany set up in 2008 by a group of grad­u­ates from the Lon­don Academy of Mu­sic and Dra­matic Art.

The play was first pre­sented as an im­pro­vised show in Ed­in­burgh. Af­ter more work it opened as the “Mur­der Be­fore Christ­mas” in 2012 in the Old Red Lion the­atre pub. Fur­ther mod­i­fi­ca­tions saw it open in the West End and the rest, as they say, is his­tory.

It’s won nu­mer­ous awards in­clud­ing the Olivier Award for Best New Com­edy 2015, Broad­way­world UK Win­ner for Best New Play 2015 and What­son­stage Award Win­ner for Best New Com­edy.

“The Play That Goes Wrong” tells of The Corn­ley Polytech­nic Drama So­ci­ety who are at­tempt­ing to put on a 1920s mur­der mys­tery, ‘Mur­der at Haver­sham Manor’, but as the ti­tle sug­gests, ev­ery­thing that can go wrong...does.

The re­sult is a play awash with ac­ci­dent-prone thes­pi­ans, lost props, fluffed lines, bun­gled en­trances and fall­ing scenery. Crit­ics have de­scribed it as di­vinely daft, glo­ri­ously pre­pos­ter­ous and finely-tuned farce and slap­stick de­liv­ered with split-sec­ond tim­ing and am­bi­tious dar­ing.

Turner be­lieves the phys­i­cal com­edy and slick chore­og­ra­phy of the play are amongst the rea­sons for its world­wide suc­cess.

“The phys­i­cal com­edy tran­scends lan­guage and age bar­ri­ers,” he ex­plains.

“The show is also very Bri­tish in its hu­mour and pays ho­mage to the greats of Bri­tish com­edy.” Then there’s the plot. “We do have a ten­dency to love rev­el­ling in other peo­ple’s mis­for­tune and there’s plenty of that in the play,” Turner ex­plains.

“At the same time the char­ac­ters are so love­able the au­di­ence is des­per­ate to see them suc­ceed.”

Given the na­ture of the play, the abil­ity to be silly and im­pro­vise were key com­po­nents in the se­lec­tion of the Aus­tralian cast.

That cast in­cludes Brooke Satch­well, Darcy Brown, Francine Cain, Adam Dunn, Luke Joslin, Ge­orge Kemp, Jor­dan Prosser, Nick Simp­son-deeks and Tammy Weller. James Mar­lowe, who is an orig­i­nal cast mem­ber from the West End pro­duc­tion of the play, also stars.

Turner is ex­tremely pleased with how re­hearsals have been pro­gress­ing with the ac­tors be­ing taken out of their com­fort zones, work­ing on their clowning tech­niques and gen­er­ally ‘be­ing silly.’

He can’t wait to see the re­ac­tion of Mel­bourne crowds.

“If I see peo­ple laugh­ing and com­ing out of the the­atre happy and say­ing they had a great time then to me the play is a great suc­cess,” he says.

When not re­hears­ing, Turner, who is in Aus­tralia for the first time, has been ex­plor­ing Mel­bourne’s the­atre and mu­sic scene and at­trac­tions such as Southbank, St Kilda Beach and Queen Vic­to­ria Mar­ket.

“The cast has been show­ing me around the city and it’s been fan­tas­tic ex­plor­ing the city—it’s a great city to ex­plore on foot.”

Left: Sean Turner. Right: Cast of “The Play That Goes Wrong”. Pho­tos: Jeff Busby.

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