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  • Writer's pictureBecky Wallis

The Play That Goes Wrong UK Tour (Theatre Royal Plymouth)

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

‘Returning for yet another calamitous run! We can’t believe it either’

Mischief Comedy has achieved global fame for their unique brand of slapstick, wordplay, and improvisation, bringing their comedic talents to stages and screens all over the world much to the delight of their fans. It’s hard to believe that such success started from humble beginnings, runs at the Edinburgh Fringe and a small stage production in a pub theatre in London, but here we are. That original show that started life on such a small stage is now a global sensation, with productions being staged across the world and ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ is now back in Plymouth as a part of its fifth UK Tour.

In this production’s play within a play format, we are introduced to the fictional Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, led by director Chris Bean (played by Colin Burnicle). In the past, things haven’t gone very well for the group, but Chris is hopeful that ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor’, a very serious murder mystery, is going to be their best show yet. Of course, at the title may suggest, things don’t exactly go according to plan. With each performer playing both a Cornley performer character and a character within the murder mystery, the play unfolds as an hilarious mixture of set malfunctions, forgotten lines, dialogue taking on a double meaning, injury, and arguments amongst the cast.

A little note for anyone looking to see this show, the performance actually begins a good 10/15 minutes before the start time, with members of the cast roaming around the auditorium as Cornley stagehands (played here by Will Taylor and Mary McGurk) in search of a misplaced dog whilst stage manager Annie (Beth Lilly) and tech manager Trevor (Gabriel Paul) are just trying to get ready for the show. A cleverly devised way of getting the audience into the spirit of things whilst introducing them to the characters, and a moment that always raises some giggles.

As director Chris, playing the role of Inspector Carter, Colin Burnicle has the audience hanging on his every word and every move. As his show unravels around him, he tries his best to hold it together and not lose his temper too much, with Burnicle’s performance showing every drop of exasperation as his co-stars continue to mess up. His facial expressions are hilarious, you can see the irritation and anger in every look and his improvisation in an iconic act one scene that the audience laughing and cheering along.

Kazeem Tosin Amore, no stranger to Mischief productions as he was recently seen as The Blade in the latest London run of Magic Goes Wrong, returns to the role of Robert in the role of Thomas Colleymoore here and has the audience in stitches throughout as he contends with a set that has a mind of its own and his somewhat mindless co-star Dennis (played by Damian James). James’ forgetful Dennis, playing butler Perkins, who stumbles over long words and gets confused by stage directions is a crowd pleaser as you find yourself willing him on to succeed. Understudy (or as mischief calls them Thunderstudies) Clare Noy took on the role of Sandra as Florence Colleymoore at this performance and she made the drama queen character completely her own, delighting in arguing with Beth Lilly’s Annie and bossing around Edi De Melo’s Max.

Steven Rostance also returns to the production in the role of Jonathan playing the part of Charles Haversham, making the most of the small moments that make this character so lovable. A simple hand gesture is enough to make the audience laugh and a few mixed-up cues throughout always got a cheer. Coming from someone who has seen this show on quite a few occasions, the character of Max is always an audience favourite, with his over-the-top gestures and cheesy grins, and Edi De Melo suits the character to a tee. A very expressive performer, able to display every emotion from pure excitement to pure terror in his facial expressions with his big grins to the audience and his wide-eyed looks of panic when faced with a determined to keep going Sandra getting some of the biggest laughs of the night. As stage manager Annie and tech manager Trevor, Beth Lilly, and Gabriel Paul are given their moments to shine throughout, from Paul’s interactions with the audience to Lilly’s excitement of taking to the stage.

‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ is not only a masterclass in comedy but also in stagecraft, with the set becoming a character for itself causing even more trouble for the Cornley cast. I can only imagine the amount of work that must go on behind the scenes to ensure that everything goes wrong in exactly the right way. Everything about this production is slick, everyone has to be in the right place at the right time, and everything has to go wrong safely, and this production harks back to that golden age of comedy, when there is something for everyone regardless of age.

It's been ten years since ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ opened in that little theatre above a London pub and it’s now one of the most popular stage comedies around, and it’s really no surprise. It is a perfectly choreographed disaster of slapstick and thrills, a delight for all ages and a guaranteed crowd pleaser. It’s on its fifth tour here in the UK now, and is also currently running in London, and I don’t see it slowing down any time soon on its journey to the comedy halls of fame.


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