Following on from my post about Ping Pong at South Bank, we headed to the Duchess Theatre on Saturday evening to watch The play that goes wrong. I’d never been to the Duchess before, but it’s in the heart of the West End.
The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempt to put on a 1920s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong does as accident prone thesps battle on against all the odds to get to their final curtain call.
The cast consisted of eight actors and each character’s role was cleverly written to somehow tie in to the comedy element. The laughs started before the show had even begun, with ‘Trevor’ the technician looking for his Duran Duran CD and a member of the audience was called up to help set up the set. It was obviously arranged to end in a comedy of errors and as he took his seat, the mantelpiece and things on the wall fell down.
In a nutshell – Charles Haversham has been found dead at his own engagement party and a snow storm has prevented any real access to and from his estate. It’s up to the inspector (and his trusty sidekick) to crack the code before the murderer strikes again. It’s a typical play-within-a-play format with all characters likely suspects.
The set was cleverly designed to ensure the maximum number of calamities and you always knew things would go wrong – the way the ‘office’ upstairs was positioned, it was likely to collapse, and of course, it did. Although when that went, I still got a shock! There were constant mishaps, with things falling off walls, door handles breaking, slips and spills – but it was all very funny. You could see a lot of work had gone in to making the set and it was all very clever.
Onto the humour and I’d probably describe it as Fawlty Towers – it’s all very over the top almost cheesy and very predictable. The character played by Henry Shields was very much like Basil as well. While the show is laugh out loud funny, it isn’t to everyone’s tastes – while I heard people behind me literally snorting and roaring with laughter, the people sat in front of me could only muster a belly laugh. It’s slapstick comedy at its best.
We had excellent seats in the stalls, about eight rows from the front with a great view of the set. Being that bit closer made the experience more intimate and I felt as though I were a part of the drama – for a show of this kind, sitting in the stalls is a must, and I couldn’t image sitting up in the dress circle, it’d be too far away/high up.
If you’re in the need of a laugh, prepare to laugh until you cry and go and see The play that goes wrong – you won’t be disappointed. The show is on at the Duchess until September with tickets starting from only £20, great value!
The cast are also performing Peter Pan goes wrong and I’m now desperate to see that. Having seen the original in the West End, I’d love the see the comic spin on the story. Unfortunately it’s only scheduled for a number of venues at the moment and I think the nearest one to me is Kingston, so I’m hoping due to popularity it’s on in London, or even closer to home!