The Play That Goes Wrong

Duchess Theatre
Catherine Street, London

Previewed: 5 September 2014
Opened: 14 September 2014
Booking to: 1 November 2020

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Nearest Tube: Covent Garden

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Theatre seating plan

Show times
Monday no show
Tuesday at 7.30pm
Wednesday at 7.30pm
Thursday at 7.30pm
Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday at 3.00pm and 7.00pm

Runs 2 hour and 5 minutes including one interval

Seat prices
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(plus booking fees if applicable)

The Play That Goes Wrong

The new comedy The Play That Goes Wrong in London at the Duchess Theatre about a Polytechnic amatuer drama group who are 'trying' to put on a 1920's murder mystery

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are attempting to put on a 1920s' murder mystery, when the accident prone thesps battle on against all the odds as everything that can go wrong, does go wrong - but can they get to their final curtain call.

This highly physical comedy is packed with finely-tuned farce and Buster Keaton inspired slapstick delivered with split-second timing is performed by the Mischief Theatre Company and has already enjoyed two successful limited seasons in the West End at the Trafalgar Studios and was a sell-out smash hit at the Edinburgh Festival.

The Play That Goes Wrong is written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields. Directed by Mark Bell with designs by Nigel Hook, lighting by Ric Mountjoy and original music by Rob Falconer. Presented by Mischief Theatre.

SEE ALSO - from Mischief Theatre - The Comedy About A Bank Robbery currently playing at the Duchess Theatre; Groan Ups at the Vaudeville Theatre from September to December 2019; and Magic Goes Wrong at the Vaudeville Theatre from December 2019 to March 2020.

The writers and original company of this comedy also presented Peter Pan Goes Wrong at the Apollo Theatre for a Christmas 2016 season and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery which is currently playing at the Criterion Theatre.

When this production opened at the Duchess Theatre John Nathan in the Independent praised the "exquisitely choreographed mayhem... farce is rarely funnier; the theatre of the absurd, rarely more surreal." Neil Norman in the Daily Express commented that "once the rules of the game have been established - Cluedo Without A Clue - it presents a torrent of gags that become increasingly manic... But it is essentially a one-joke piece and the joke wears thin long before the end. While it is possible to admire the energy and the hysterical mugging of the cast it is also increasingly tiresome... But judging by the audience reaction these improv stand-up Lamda graduates are definitely on to something. And the programme notes are hysterical." Dominic Maxwell in the Times thought that "this theatrical spoof is all punchline and no set-up. The to-the-point title sets out a conceit of non-stop catastrophe that it stages with undeniable skill and devotion. Yet it soon goes from amusing to wearying with surprising speed." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times said that "with this amiably ridiculous show, Mischief Theatre joins a venerable tradition of deliberately dreadful drama... It's not new then, but it is often very funny. Partly it's just that slapstick, done well, can reduce even the gravest souls to tears and there are some perfectly timed pratfalls here."

When this production was previously seen at the Trafalgar Studios in London's West End Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail hailed it as being "a splendidly funny show... at one point I feared I was going to hyperventilate," adding that "director Mark Bell choreographs calamity with aplomb." Libby Purves in the Times wrote that "there is something irresistible about semi-competent actors endeavouring to keep going amid rebel props and panicking colleagues," adding that that was "immaculately staged." In the Daily Telegraph Charles Spencer said: "Boy, does it hit the funny bone... the script is full of bright ideas and preposterous gags, and the show, neatly directed by Mark Bell, strikes me as an enduring cult hit in the making." Lyn Gardner in the Guardian explained that "it does no more nor less than its title declares, but it does it with a highly developed sense of mischief and cheeky aplomb."

"This Fringe hit, now in the West End, is a celebration of am-dram whodunit catastrophe... Actress Charlie Russell preens manically as the play's buxom heroine, and Nancy Wallinger is the stressed-out stage manager. But just how funny is this Noises Off-style farce? Sometimes very, but much of the time it's more breathless than hilarious. The three writers are all in the cast and one of them, Jonathan Sayer, is the star turn, an amateur who can't act playing a butler who can't buttle." The Mail on Sunday

"I have to say that my own laughter was measured. I laughed, I suppose, only to try to fit in, but my belly did not by any means ache from the endeavour. The reason is simple: every line that the actors up on the stage forget, every piece of the set that collapses, every spotlight that misses its target and every prop that goes missing happens not by chance, but by design... I found it hard to laugh spontaneously at the somewhat less- than- spontaneous disasters on offer here... It would certainly be churlish of me not to concede that I have seldom, if ever, heard louder or more sustained laughter in a theatre. I will admit that I was charmed, too, by the youthful cast of unknowns... Mark Bell's direction is joyously manic and Nigel Hook's set design is a delight as well." The Sunday Telegraph

"Purporting to be a production by a polytechnic amateur dramatic society, it resembles a cross between the murder mystery parody in Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound and Michael Frayn's backstage comedy Noises Off. The hapless amateur actors, played here by eight talented young farceurs, are at the mercy of every disaster in the annals of coarse acting... but it remains a one-joke evening. While the high spirits are infectious and the silliness inspired, they outstay their welcome. Nonetheless, it will be the perfect Christmas show for work parties; provided it lasts that long." The Express on Sunday

The Play That Goes Wrong in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 5 September 2014 and opened on 14 September 2014.