The Play That Goes Wrong at Derby Theatre Review

3-7 April 2018

Reviewed by Louise Edwards

As soon as we arrived at the theatre we were immersed in the action. Backstage, the crew are looking for a dog, Winston, who had gone missing. “Have you seen him anywhere?” we were asked.

The award-winning West End show, The Play That Goes Wrong, is full of all the ingredients of a classic farce, with lashings of slapstick and comedy. The show is directed by Mark Bell and written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields who all met at LAMDA before creating the Mischief Theatre Company, the UK’s leading comedy theatre troupe.

A play within a play, the drama is set within “Murder at Haversham Manor”, a murder mystery whodunit performed by Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society. Everything that can go wrong does with hilarious consequences.

As we take our seats, on stage the set is falling apart and a stagehand enlists an audience member to help repair it before the show starts so everyone is already laughing before the curtain rises, along with everyone else. This sets the tone for the rest of the evening.

Lighting cockups have us witness the murdered “body” get in situ and the placing of the “corpse’s” hand means it gets trodden on several times before he tries to discretely move it. The antics of the cast had the whole audience howling with laughter.

We learn that Charles Haversham, who according to the programme is played by Jonathan Harris (who is played by actor Steven Rostance), has been murdered on the evening of his engagement announcement to Florence Colleymore, played by Sandra Wilkinson aka Elena Valentine. Inspector Carter, played with superb comic timing by Liam Horrigan is there to investigate the crime.

The show has lots of physical comedy and the using props and the energy and enthusiasm of the small but talented cast is infectious and exhilarating. The set, designed by Nigel Hook, is expertly created to fall apart just at the right times.

We howled at the mispronunciations by the butler, Perkins, played by Benjamin McMahon, perfectly timed, that often take the audience seconds to work out. Some of the actors of stage clearly were struggling to keep a straight face as Kazeem Tosin Amore, who played Robert Grove, cast as Thomas Colleymore, the brother of Florence, was holding on tightly to several large prop items to stop them sliding off the precariously balanced mezzanine.

With the whole performance culminating in a chaotic crescendo that leaves you breathless as you try to take a gasp of air in between laughs.

From suspect interval ice cream to backstage hands filling in for the unconscious leading lady to interludes of Duran Duran you are guaranteed to laugh until your sides ache.

We took along our nine and eleven year olds who were at first a little perturbed by what was happening, but were soon laughing along with everyone else. It is more of an adult show, but the content is accessible for all the family.

Derby Theatre is situated within the into shopping centre. Parking is available for £2 from 5pm and the basement car park is handy. The theatre is very comfortable and has a small cafe and bar with snacks and beverages available.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £20.50 to £34.50 (booking fees may apply).

The Play That Goes Wrong is at Derby Theatre from 3-7 April 2018, for more information or book tickets visit www.derbytheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01332 593939.

Derby Theatre, 15 Theatre Walk, St Peter’s Quarter, Derby, DE1 2NF | 01332 593939

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