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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Theater Review - The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields
Directed by Mark Bell
Where: The Lyceum Theatre, New York, NY
When:  Wednesday, July 12, 7pm
The British drama group The Cornley University Drama Society cordially invites you to their production of The Murder at Haversham Manor, the showing of which they've somehow managed to secure the Broadway Lyceum Theatre.  Headed by Chris Bean (Dave Hearn), the society is a small ensemble, but they feel they've found the perfect production to showcase their talents.  Needless to say, as The Murder at Haversham Manor unfolds it rather quickly becomes The Play That Goes Wrong as everything -- and I mean everything -- that could go wrong does leading to a hilarious night at the theater as chaos reigns on the stage.

In the vein of Noises Off which is a rollicking behind-the-scenes look at the production of a play (review), The Play That Goes Wrong succeeds at hitting all the right notes when it comes to humor -- or "humour" as the Brits like to call it -- the extra "u" is for the added funny, I assume.  Sure, some of the jokes may fall a little flat, but as The Murder at Haversham Manor unfolds, anything and everything you could dream of falls apart -- sometimes quite literally on the Tony-winning set by Nigel Hook.  Chaos certainly reigns amongst the ensemble and while you want to feel a bit bad for the group, you also can't wait to see what breaks down next.

The eight-member ensemble of The Play That Goes Wrong is at the top of their game, verbally playing off each other with expert timing.  Of course, the expert timing also comes into play with the innumerable physical comedy routines that run rampant throughout the production.  Even more amazing and truly showcasing the troupe's carefully honed skills is the fact that one member of the troupe was hurt during Act I and was replaced by an understudy in Act II without any issue.  In fact, most of the audience assumed that the replacement actress was actually part of the show, making the assumption that this was simply one of the things that went wrong.  Despite the ensemble nature, a special mention must be made for Henry Shields (who co-wrote the play) whose Robert hams it up in his first production with the Cornley Drama Society.

Comedy is a tricky thing and helmer Mark Bell has directed his cast expertly with perfect timing all around.  Ultimately, The Play That Goes Wrong could've really been trimmed by about twenty minutes, creating a more streamlined one-act production as opposed to a two-hour two-act presentation, but it's tough to really complain when you find yourself laughing from start to finish in The Play That Goes Wrong

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