Review: ★★ The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre

Review: ★★ The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre

Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s production of a 1920s murder mystery is destined to go wrong before anyone has even entered the stage. The set is falling apart before the show even starts and while it doesn’t necessarily look like a deathtrap, it quickly becomes clear that it is likely to take a few victims.

Mischief Comedy’s original West End production has been running at the Duchess Theatre since 2014. Even without the knowledge that the play had originated as a single act, far shorter piece, the current two act show seems over extended and drawn out.

Unfortunately, but as is often the case with Comedy, particularly slapstick, farce type comedy, not everyone is going to like everything. You are unlikely to fill a theatre and for every single person to find it as funny as the person sitting next to them. While the odd moment of hilarity did leave me feeling like the whole thing might pick up and become really funny, those moments were few and far between – and the whole thing did not pick up, so there comes a point where people being hit on the head by things falling off the wall just isn’t funny any more.

I couldn’t fault the production or any of the cast for their execution of the material; their timing was perfect and their use of all of the dysfunctional stage and scenery was impeccable and without restrain; I just didn’t find it very funny. What they did, they did very well, and with a huge amount of commitment to each and every stunt, but what they did was also extremely silly. As an aside, the extension of their brand to upside down advertising, pre-show onstage drama and website, is faultless and clearly well thought out.

If farcical comedy is your guilty (or not so guilty) pleasure, go and see this – it’s relentless, and the rest of the audience seemed to be laughing continuously. An Olivier Award (2015) is rarely wrong. If it’s not, spend your money elsewhere – even on the arguably funnier The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, from the same company, currently playing at the Criterion Theatre.


The Play That Goes Wrong is currently booking until February 2018.

(The ‘don’t click me’ feature on their website is possibly more fun than most of the show)

Emma Betty

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