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Theatre Review: The Play That Goes Wrong - Theatre Royal, Glasgow ✭✭✭✭½


Review by Sharman Prince


Extolling the virtues of the worst aspects of amateur dramatics, The Play That Goes Wrong brings its anarchic chaos back to Glasgow as part of its new UK tour. Filled with uproarious action, witty dialogue and the worst actors (in the best possible way) the play presents the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society's production of "The Murder at Haversham Manor". Or, rather, it attempts to as, needless to say, things go awry from the off.

Intelligently written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields and utilising elements of farce, physical theatre and anything appearing on a list of theatrical nightmare scenarios from technical errors and misplaced props to timing mistakes, the production is cleverly constructed along the lines of the murder mystery plays of old whilst even managing a nod or two to the sacred Gaffer tape of theatre technicians among other bright moments dotted throughout. The authors' word play is exciting and no doubt contributed to their receiving the Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 2015. Dynamically abysmal lines are delivered with aplomb, exaggerated diction and even with excruciating mispronunciation.

The physical production is no less as varied and the staging is tightly choreographed around a set that is as dangerous as it is effective. Add to that the equally en pointe use of lighting and sound and you have the tumultuous parts to manufacture a manic whole. The construction and execution of the play is potently delivered thanks to the writers and director Mark Bell and it is a testament to the creative team that the production still feels as fresh and remains as achingly funny as ever.

The play is filled with exceedingly well written characters (familiar to anyone who has taken part in am-dram) which are performed brilliantly by an ensemble of energetic actors, even if some feel a trifle shoehorned into predefined roles. From the sultry diva to the Laurence Olivier wannabe the stage is alive with memorable figures, even representing the unsung technical heroes (or not, in this case) that work behind the scenes.

The best of the worst of theatre, farcical and hysterical, The Play That Goes Wrong is nothing less than an uplifting and enjoyable dose of comedy and a theatrical treat that cannot fail to raise at least a smile and a giggle from the most jaded of theatregoers.

The Play That Goes Wrong is at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 11th March. For tickets and information visit ATG Tickets

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