The Play that Goes Wrong | Tour | Review
Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Mon 30 Aug 2021 to Sat 04 Sep 2021
The ubiquitous Mischief Theatre and their series of ‘Goes Wrong’ productions returns to Eastbourne with the first in the series, The Play That Goes Wrong. This is a show that works best in a playhouse so it is surprising on this occasion that the production is housed in the much bigger and less suitable Congress Theatre which requires the use of radio mics. These cut out intermittently which undermines the premise of the production.
There is no doubt the idea behind the play (that goes wrong) is very funny however it lacks originality. Michael Green was doing something very similar with his Coarse Acting Show in the mid 60s and Michael Frayn set the benchmark with the superb Noises Off, a play this production aims to pay homage to without reaching it’s heights.
The cast are very strong although there is a feeling they are simply filling the shoes of previous actors who have played their roles. They don’t appear to have been given the freedom to interpret their characters which is probably because the characters are written so one-dimensionally and this gives the show a rather mechanical feeling. Stand out performances however include April Hughes who plays Sandra who plays Florence Colleymoore in the play within the play (Murder at Haversham Manor) and Laura Kirman who plays Annie the Stage Manager of the aforementioned murder mystery play. There are also some lovely touches: Perkins the butler played by Dennis Tyde played by Edward Howells has greyed the sides of his hair in order to age up but forgotten to do the back and wears incongruous Union Flag socks!!
There are some very funny set pieces many of which reference some of the masters of physical comedy including an elaborate finale which is a blatant steal from Buster Keaton. The main issue is that if you have seen Noises Off, The Play That Goes Wrong compares unfavourably. Michael Frayn’s spellbinding backstage farce manages to do all the same things, only better.
Reviewer: Patric Kearns