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