Review: The Play That Goes Wrong

by Lynn on January 20, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields

Directed by Matt DiCarlo

Scenic design by Nigel Hook

Costumes by Roberto Surace

Lighting by Ric Mountjoy

Sound by Andrew Johnson

Original music by Rob Falconer

Cast: Scott Cote

Peyton Crim

Brandon J. Ellis

Angela Grovey

Ned Noyes

Jamie Ann Romero

Evan Alexander Smith

Yaegel T. Welch

Totally silly, wonderfully accomplished and a little bit dangerous.

The Story and the Production. The Cornley University Drama Society is presenting The Murder at Haversham Manor. The company has rehearsed very hard but many things have conspired against them. The door up at the back won’t close and stage management has tried valiantly to fix it. Nothing works and then it does. And then it doesn’t. And then….oh, never mind. The mantle piece falls off, as do curtains, pictures, and other stuff on the wall. People get bashed in the face with a door (that’s when it was working) or with something that fell from above the door. And the dog that is vitally needed in Act II has gone missing. Annie the stage manager (a very serious and funny Angela Grovey) goes into the audience as we are arriving at our seats to ask if anyone has a dog she could borrow. One woman did have one but it was in Mississauga. Annie asked how long it would take to go and get it. Trevor, a wonderfully dim lighting and sound operator (hurray, Brandon J. Ellis) usually missed his cues because he was eating cookies, checking his e-mails or listening to music through his headphones.

Through it all the corpse of the murdered person would not stay dead; more and more stuff of the set broke and something happened in Act II I wouldn’t dare describe to protect the faint of heart and the asthmatic.

The cast of The Murder at Haversham Manor continued through it all, improvising, keeping in character and making do.

Comment. Let’s get this out of the way quickly, shall we, The Play That Goes Wrong is nothing like Noises Off even though both plays deal with doing a production with lots of mishaps. The Play That Goes Wrong is about a university drama society putting on a show. All the action for the most part takes place on the stage as all the actors act their parts. The exceptions could be Trevor, the lighting and sound operator over there in sight as he checks his emails etc. and eats cookies, and Annie the stage manager has to pitch in to act when the leading lady is knocked unconscious (don’t ask). Ok, I’m not going to ask how it was possible for the phone to ring on stage during those times that Trevor was completely not at his station to make those sounds. I’m not going to ask.

Noises Off on the other hand is about a questionably professional company doing a play on tour in the British ‘provinces’ over a long stint. We see the actors on stage trying to learn the complicated play and the staging, as well as off stage as the personal lives of the actors intertwine. At the end of that long run, no one seems to actually be talking to each other and it affects the playing which is now lazy and haphazard.

The Play That Goes Wrong is a romp. It’s seriously silly fun with more and more things going wrong as the play goes on and should be approached with that in mind. If you want something deeper, read Schopenhauer.

David Mirvish Presents:

Began: Jan. 8, 2019.

Closes: Feb. 10, 2019.

Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.

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1 Brian Stein January 20, 2019 at 4:01 pm

At least you got it. My NYC friend who sees lots on and off Broadway and freely admits this kind of work is not her cup of tea loved it and is scratching her head at the reviews I sent her, most disappointed by JKN. I sawbin in NYC and here on opening night and laughed just as hard. Watch that banana peel, Lynn.