Ev­ery­thing wrong is dead right

The only thing not mal­func­tion­ing is the hi­lar­i­ous plot in spoof on am­a­teur theatre

The New Zealand Herald - - CLASSIFIED -

This was nearly a case of the re­view that went wrong. I truly thought The Play That Goes Wrong opened on Thursday and it was only late on Wed­nes­day I dis­cov­ered my er­ror and made a dash for the ASB Wa­ter­front Theatre.

Still, had I ar­rived late and plunged into the au­di­to­rium nois­ily de­mand­ing to be let in be­cause I was the re­viewer the au­di­ence would have as­sumed it was all part of the act.

A play’s ti­tle is a sell­ing doc­u­ment and there can rarely have been a more ac­cu­rate de­scrip­tion of the even­ing we saw. The Corn­ley Polytech­nic Drama So­ci­ety is to present The Mur­der at Haver­sham Manor, a mur­der mys­tery in the Agatha Christie style (and era) where all are trapped with the mur­derer among them.

It is not so much the genre they spoof but the sorts of thing that can go wrong in Am­Dram pro­duc­tions. The ac­tors are not so much sub­servient to the plot as to the set — which lets them down (some­times lit­er­ally) badly. And hi­lar­i­ously.

A dis­arm­ing in­tro­duc­tory speech sets the tone by sug­gest­ing the com­pany’s lim­ited act­ing per­son­nel and hints at pre­vi­ous dis­as­ters. The play be­gins and things go wrong. No door will open prop­erly, no fit­ting will re­main in place, no clock, win­dow, can­dle­stick, sabre or any­thing han­dled by a char­ac­ter will per­form as it should.

Lines are de­liv­ered wrongly and hi­lar­i­ously out of se­quence.

Ac­tors shame­lessly mug to the au­di­ence and the sound man ne­glects his du­ties.

Even the corpse al­most steals the show.

In the sec­ond half, you won­der how things can pos­si­bly get worse but, hap­pily, they do right up to the crash­ing fi­nale.

It would be in­vid­i­ous to sin­gle out any in­di­vid­ual cast mem­ber. This is a fine en­sem­ble play­ing with those back­stage con­tribut­ing al­most as much as those on. And a huge sa­lute (and am­ple fi­nan­cial re­wards, one hopes) to the orig­i­nal team that put it all to­gether.

It owes quite a lot to The Art of Coarse Act­ing and some­thing to Noises Off; it’s a tad re­lent­less and is per­haps a pity that the fi­nal bows aren’t taken in the man­ner of the am­a­teur com­pany they’d pur­ported to be all night.

But Os­car Wilde once said that a man must have a heart of stone not to laugh at the death of Lit­tle Nell. In this case, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to have a grand time at The Play That Goes Wrong.

Picture / Sup­plied

The Play That Goes Wrong plays on the best and worst ex­pe­ri­ences you've ever had at the theatre.

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