The Play That Goes Wrong at the Oxford Playhouse Review

22-27 January 2018

Reviewed by Katy Hart

Last evening (22 January 2018) anyone walking past the Oxford Playhouse must have wondered what was going on inside as the laughter and hilarious goings on literally ‘brought the house down’.

It was a delight to be at the opening night of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ as the fictitious amateur dramatic company from Cornley Polytechnic presented the 1920’s murder mystery at Haversham Manor.

The play was written by the talented Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, all graduates of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.  It won Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards and Best New Comedy at the WhatsOnStage.com Awards in 2014. It is currently playing in the West End and Broadway as well as over 20 other productions worldwide.

Before the curtain goes up the audience see the stagehands wandering around doing last minute adjustments to the set, and trying to find Winston, the dog, who has wandered off. The curtain is raised, and quickly lowered again to allow the deceased person to get into position and then a whole series of mishaps and unfortunate events follow. Despite the predictability of many of these mishaps, you cannot fail but laugh hysterically as the cast do their utmost to adhere to the theatre’s motto – ‘The show must go on’.

Jake Curran as Chris, Kazeem Tosin Amore as Robert, Bobby Hirston as Max, Liam Horrigan Ensemble, Laura White Ensemble, Benjamin McMahon as Dennis, Catherine Dryden as Annie, Steven Rostance as Jonathan, Elena Valentine as Sandra
Photographer credit: Robert Day

Anything that can go wrong, seems to go wrong. There are misplaced props, forgotten and repeated lines, missed cues, mis-pronounced words and a very flimsy and fragile set that the stagehand frequently wanders on stage to assist with. In reality, the set, designed by Tony Award winner Nigel Hook, is astoundingly brilliant. The missing dog is not found, which leads to some interesting and amusing improvisation with an empty dog lead in one of the scenes.

For me the highlights of the evening were the incredibly clever inconvenient telephone calls, and the removal of the unconscious Florence Colleymore through the window. I will also ensure I never accept a whisky without first checking the bottle it is poured from!

The endless energy of the cast and their impeccable timing makes this a show that you will find hard not to enjoy. The creative and production teams, although behind the scenes, must be given credit for what really is a cleverly put together performance. It really is guaranteed to have you laughing hysterically. There cannot have been one person in the theatre last evening who at some point was not laughing uncontrollably.

For me, I’d rate this production 4/5 purely because it was a little too predictable for me, however it really was thoroughly great entertainment and suitable for children (aged 8+) and adults alike.

The performance lasts just 2 hours 5 mins with an interval.

Rating: 4/5

Tickets cost from £10 to £37.50 (booking fees may apply).

The Play That Goes Wrong is at the Oxford Playhouse from 22-27 January 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.oxfordplayhouse.com or call the box office on 01865 305305.

Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2LW | 01865 305305

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