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  • Writer's pictureBecky Wallis

The Play That Goes Wrong - Duchess Theatre - Review

Oh look, what a shock. She’s writing about a mischief show again. But let’s be honest here, is that really a surprise? Mischief Theatre has something that just keeps on dragging me back, and the most addictive of the lot for me, ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’. People may, and do, ask me why I keep seeing it, how on Earth I am not bored of it yet and I give the same answer every time. How can I get bored of something that is different every single time. Different cast combinations, different audience reactions, ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ is a constantly changing, constantly evolving thing.

Chris, Robert, Dennis, Max, Sandra, Jonathan, Annie, and Trevor; that’s Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and here they are presenting their newest show, The Murder at Haversham Manor. The stage is set, the actors are prepared, and it’s all ready to go. But there’s a problem, several actually. The actors are accident prone, clumsy, and forgetful. Some think that they have it all together when they certainly do not, where others are just happy to be there, and the director is desperately trying to hold it all together. Add into this a set with a mind of its own, and it’s a disaster waiting to happen. The clue is in the title really.

Mikhail Sen’s director Chris Bean, playing the role of Inspector Carter, is driven and passionate, determined that his show will go on, no matter what. Sen excels in audience interaction, drawing everyone into the action and bringing everyone into his world. You can clearly see the characters frustration as his fellow actor’s fumble and fault, becoming more and more annoyed as things spiral out of control. Tendai Humphrey Sitima, playing Robert, playing Thomas Colleymoore earns many a laugh with his arguments with both his co-stars and the set itself.

Jaouhar Ben Ayed plays Dennis, playing butler Perkins. Dennis is forgetful, stumbling over his dialogue and causing chaos for his co-stars, much to Chris’ frustration. Ayed’s ability to keep a straight face when hilarity is happening around him is impressive throughout. Scott Hunter’s Max, playing the role of Cecil Haversham wins the audience over immediately on their first entrance and holds them for the performance, every smile, every cheeky antic earning applause.

As Annie, Ashh Blackwood impresses with her sass and enjoyment at every moment of being on stage. The rivalry between the characters of Annie and Sandra, played here by Emily Waters, is hilariously funny, played with wonderful energy by both performers. Stepping up to the role of Sandra, understudy Emily Waters makes the role her own. Sandra loves the spotlight, and Waters embodies that attitude.

Fellow understudies (or as mischief calls them Thunderstudies) Jack Whittle and Stuart Vincent stepped up to play the roles of Jonathan, playing Charles Haversham, and Trevor respectively. Whittle’s Jonathan had a cheeky side and had the audience in stitches with his stunt work whilst Vincent’s techie Trevor delighted the audience with plenty of interaction both during the show itself and the show’s much loved pre-show.

‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ may have been running in the West End for 8 years, but it remains fresh, slick, and incredibly funny. With its regular breaking of the fourth wall, old school slapstick, wickedly clever wordplay that sees dialogue taking on a different meaning throughout, this is a style of comedy that is a proven crowd pleaser. Mischief Theatre certainly know what they are doing when it comes to making people laugh, and audiences surely do love them for it. A smash hit.


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