Dear Readers,

On behalf of myself and the Midlands Newsquest papers, I would like to formally apologise that my review of Mischief Theatre’s ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ has suffered some minor setbacks. Owing to a series of increasingly unfortunate and unexpected circumstances, said review can no longer be retrieved.

Indeed, the laptop upon which it was stored is currently, by my estimations, floating somewhere down the River Stour. I would, naturally, pursue it, but unfortunately I am in a leg cast whilst typing this on a replacement Windows 95 laptop one-handed, my other hand carefully yet precariously holding up a cherished framed painting of my late, great Uncle Algenom.

To regale you with the exact circumstances of how this all transpired would be worthy of an evening’s entertainment in and of itself, and in fact the one saving grace of this misfortune is how I hope one day it can all be re-enacted for a live audience to ironically enjoy, but for now, I kindly ask you to leave me to my misfortune and accept my apologies for the lack of review.

From what I recall (having suffered numerous blows to the head since the time of writing), said review would surely have chartered the tremendous success of Mischief Theatre’s ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ since I first reviewed it back in the more intimate confines of Trafalgar Studios, Los Angeles, back in the summer of 1913. 

The basic premise remains the same, but has been writ larger; the fictional ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ attempt to put on their latest am dram production, ‘Murder at Haversham Manor’ , to increasingly disastrous (see: hilarious) effect. There are more than passing echoes of Frayn in there, but unlike ‘Noises Off’s’ more evident backstage drama, ‘Play’ focuses on its catastrophic fictional performance from start to finish.

Given the show’s stratospheric, and richly deserved success, I seem to remember putting something in there about being interested in seeing how well the show transitioned from a smaller, intimate venue such as Trafalgar studios to a full-sized auditorium; having not gotten to see the show, or either of its sister plays (‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ and ‘The Comedy About A Bank Robbery’) during their London or touring tenures.

There would almost surely have been a mention of just how successfully the move to larger venues has been implemented, including the further fourth-wall breaking addition of a new character in the form of sound engineer Trevor (Graeme Rooney), and how the show has lost none of it’s relentlessly hilarious energy, an impressive feat given the show, which formerly ran for just 60 seconds in its first incarnation, has been stretched out to a run time of approximately 5 and a half hours, including seven intervals.

I’m fairly sure there was an appraisal of the cast assembled for this touring production. The original cast, including writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, are this very week opening the show over on Broadway (as it’s huge success continues, one can likely see Tonys tumbling off of the same wobbly mantelpiece currently adorned with Oliviers and such). However, despite not having the original creatives and cast starring, this UK Tour does, from what I can recall, boast a terrific cast who pull off the farcical hijinks and surprisingly physical comedy expertly.

I no doubt mentioned names and characters in my review, but that is all becoming something of a blur, and unfortunately my copy of the show’s programme is sitting frustratingly just out of reach; I can assure you the efforts of attempting to reach it in this current state would likely prove farcically impractical. 

I would, naturally, ask my trusty manservant Rodgers to assist, but he has sadly been rendered unconscious by an errant door, and my sister Patience is currently trapped inside our grandfather clock, which itself has ‘fainted’ onto the sofa.

So, going off of memory, I seem to remember there not being a single weak link in a uniformly hilarious cast. One can only imagine some of the bruises they must incur as they swing from collapsing light rigs, jostle with sliding desks upon falling walkways and all other manner of madness. Indeed, it is impressive just how authentically and seamlessly all the ongoing physical comedy, stunts and set disasters are pulled off. Rehearsals must be an hilarious nightmare. 

Edward Judge dominated proceedings with his booming, rambunctious Robert Grove / Thomas Colleymoore, an absolute treat of a performance that bristled with comic energy and presence. Alistair Kirton gave an endearing, loveable turn as the infantile, romantically reluctant Max (who doubles down on roles in the in-universe show), whilst Patrick Warner gave great exasperation throughout as the show’s director-turned-inspector Chris a.k.a Mr Bean. 

Sandra Wilkinson proved herself a feisty, talented comedienne whilst also being a great sport, throwing herself around the ever collapsing stage with real gusto. And Marianne Benedict proved herself a fantastic Grizabella, her late-show rendition of ‘Memory’ a beautiful and searing highlight.

Once again, I would like to formally extend my apology that I have not been able to fulfil my duties as a critic in providing my review for ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’. In lieu of this, once I receive assistance and am able to do peel myself away from the very difficult position I find myself currently rendered in, I will do my level best to retrieve or rewrite my appraisal. 

Until then, I will simply have to just say that the show is a riotous, exhaustingly funny delight, a masterclass in both funny and silly, and a 5 star treasure of a comedy that is easily a must-see for all.

Now please excuse me, I’m going to try and reach my telephone…

RATING - ★★★★★

Tickets: 01902 429 212  / Official Website: click