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The Play That Goes Wrong

Have a ridiculously good night out at Brighton's Theatre Royal as the award-winning production goes on tour

Chances are you already know about The Play That Goes Wrong from its award-winning West End run and if you don’t, well the title is a bit of a giveaway.

Photo by Robert Day

Now on tour, the comedy is stopping into Brighton for a week only, so you have until until Sat 1 Sept to catch Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s increasingly fraught attempts to stage a murder mystery play.

Many of the laughs of this play-within-a-play come from the actors sticking doggedly to the script even when the prop they need is missing, or the actor they are addressing is absent or unconscious.

Photo by Robert Day

The shoddiness of the set is the other source of humour. A sticking door, makeshift fireplace, a collapsing floor and many other mishaps cause ludicrous ‘make do’ clowning and violent accidents.

There are also a few giggles for Duran Duran fans courtesy of the audio booth which takes over one of the theatre’s boxes.

Jake Curran, left as a detective, with Elena Valentine – the usual Florence Colleymore. Photo by Robert Day

While Jake Curran was great as the actor/director red-faced with indigination at both cast and audience as things go awry and Laura White (actually the understudy for the part) was wonderfully over-the-top as Florence Collymore, the most impressive aspect of the acting is the phyisicality of all involved.

Photo by Robert Day

In particular Florence has to undergo some undignified contortions as crew members attempt to retrieve her apprently unsconcious body from the set and Thomas Colymoore (played by Kazeem Tosin Amore) spends a protracted time balancing himself and various pieces of furniture on a slopping mezzanine floor. This sequence really made me wince as I failed to work out what real-life health and safety measures were actually stopping him falling.

Credit must also go the backstage crew who must make everything fall apart artfully and right on time.

Photo by Robert Day

Though the audience was mainly adults on my visit, the show is billed as for ages 8+. I took my eight-and-a-half-year-old nephew and had a lot of ‘why are they laughing?’ as he failed to grasps the jokes based on missed cues and the like. He settled down later and told me he ‘understooded it in the second half’ and was reliving certain bits I had thought he hadn’t got on the way home.

The dead body was his favourite character because, due to various prop failures, it actually ends up moving itself rather a lot!

The humour is certainly cartoonish and you don’t need to follow the murder mystery plot to follow the play but I’d say ages 10+ would be a safer bet.

Photo by Robert Day

I used to be a bit snobby about farces, the kind of show Victoria Wood once referred to as ‘Whoops, There Go My Bloomers!’ Then, I realised the episodes I most loved in US sitcom Frasier were the ones where they spoofed the convention, with people hiding in cupboards, mistaken identity and the like. If done well, it can be achingly funny.

Photo by Robert Day

Sure there’s nothing subtle about The Play That Goes Wrong, from the title onwards but for a feel-good pick-me up there’s little to beat it. As I left the theatre, the audience member beside me told his friend it was the funniest show he’d ever seen. It probably wasn’t quite mine, but it was still a ridiculously good night out.

The Play That Goes Wrong is at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, Mon 27 Aug – Sat 1 Sept, tickets are from £16.90,

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