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The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong

Mischief Theatre’s multi award-winning international smash hit comedy The Play That Goes Wrong is back.

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on a 1920s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does!  As the accident prone thesps battle on against all the odds to reach their final curtain call, hilarious results ensue!

Hailed “a gut-busting hit” by the New York Times, The Play That Goes Wrong, now in its sixth year in the West End, has won a host of celebrity endorsements from the likes of Joanna Lumley “We laughed until the tears ran down our faces, it has to be seen” to Ant & Dec “The funniest show we’ve seen! If you can get a ticket, go!”

Don’t miss this brilliantly funny comedy that’s guaranteed to leave you aching with laughter!

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Our review on The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong - Opera House, Manchester - Monday 30th May 2022 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating


Mic drop!  Boom!  That’s how you put on a play!  (Mischief that is and NOT Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society).  What an evening of absolute chaos, mania and brilliance.  The name of the company says it all – Mischief! – meaning that even if I didn’t know anything about them, I would immediately love them.  Luckily for me, I do know a little and they have become my go to indulgence on days when you just need a good giggle and a pick me up.  I first became aware of Mischief and The Play That Goes Wrong in 2015 when they made an appearance on The Royal Variety Performance.  I have never howled and ugly laughed so hard in my life!  I knew that I just had to see the play in its entirety and so I jumped at the opportunity a few years later to watch it in London.  I was hooked, and as their popularity quite rightly grew, television shows appeared, and I tuned in to every single one.  Peter Pan Goes Wrong, A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong and their television series The Goes Wrong Show. 

So, who are Mischief? Well, they’re a group of actors who upon graduating LAMDA in 2008, created an improvisational group and started performing across the UK. They started developing scripted work and have since created numerous shows which are performed all over the world including The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, Groan-Up’s and Magic Goes Wrong.  Their winning formula of being serious about silliness ensures their plight of providing everyone with the opportunity to break free from their everyday shackles of life are not only met, but are smashed, cracked and tripped over along the way! Mischief is essential escapism (or ridiculous escapism as they like to call it) through humour, mishaps and that innate and questionable instinct we all have to laugh at others accidental misfortunes.


The Play That Goes Wrong
is a beautifully constructed play within a play that immediately gives free license to break the fourth wall, allowing the cast to brilliantly present two characters- their amateur dramatic persona who is a member of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, and the part that this character is playing within the murder mystery ‘Murder At Haversham Manor’.  But the Cornley Drama Society are ill prepared, accident prone, and dealing with internal thespian problems, relationships and a director who insists the show must go on - even when it is quite literally falling down around them!

If I can give you any advice for this show it’s to arrive early because even though the show formally begins at 19.30, the entertainment begins way before that at around 19.00.  The Cornley members make appearances on the stage trying to dress the set, mingle with the audience looking for vital personal items such as a missing Duran Duran CD and involve the audience with brilliant improvisational moments that will have you rejoicing before the show has officially begun.  The actual start of the show is just about the most pumped up I have seen an audience and when Henry Shields arrived on stage and delivered his now famous catch phrase – “I’m the Directoooorrrrr” – the theatre erupted with electric applause.  This respect was rightly repeated every time a much-loved cast member appeared for the first time, making it abundantly clear that Manchester loves Mischief!  I don’t think any of us could quite believe we were lucky enough to be watching the original cast, and the television cast who are now all so instantly recognisable. 


The training, time, skill and effort that Mischief members must invest into their performances blows my mind every time I watch their work and tonight was no exception. These are stunt, slapstick and comedy geniuses. How they batter themselves each night without getting hurt is incredible.  I love that they turn a disaster into the most positive form of entertainment and reduce their audience to streaming tears of laughter every night. You will laugh so hard it will make you question if you ever really knew what real laughter was before!  Everything is a gag from doors that won’t close and won’t open, props being mixed up and misused, set that won’t stay still, and everything breaking such as the head of a hammer flying off.  The Cornley Drama Society strongly believe that the show must go on, mostly to their own detriment!  The one thing you can guarantee that they will get right is getting it wrong and this knowledge puts the audience in a constant state of heightened and eager anticipation.  You will see masters of slapstick, physical theatre, stage fighting, stunt artists, and witness improvisational legends.  Actors are literally dragged through open windows by a single arm and leg, walk into and are consistently smashed by doors, fall through and off gurneys, drop off platforms and even balance a bureau, a drinks cabinet, a chair and a pot plant all at the same time!  The script is sublime, succulent, and silly and is so sure of its own brilliance that undermining it with further comedic chaos takes it to the next level.  The cast are joyfully able to take the script out of sync so questions are answered before they’ve been asked, allow it to be stuck in a loop, read stage directions as important and dramatic lines, and mispronounce words with such hilarity that they will replace the originals in your everyday language for the are so much better!  I mean, why on earth would you every say cyanide again when you can pronounce it Kai-a-niddi!  Simple, surreal and spot on!  The Play That Goes Wrong is like a beautiful jigsaw.  It’s not just one piece that makes it a masterpiece, but so many individual and equally important bits all joining together to create the complete package.  Each character has its own ‘bit’, from exiting with their arms crossed over their chest, to forgetting they’re in the play and joining in clapping with the audience.  There are playful ‘digs’ at some of the less fortunate am dram societies out there too in the form of overacting, including a child like action to every word spoken, waving to the audience, and cast members fighting over who gets the part.  Place all of this alongside flashes of brilliance that are in a world of their own virtuoso imagination.  I mean, I never thought I’d be able to say that I have seen a Grandfather clock faint, but there you go!


The Play That Goes Wrong
is the perfect family show, engaging and entertaining every possible age.  The Opera House was streaming tears of laughter and with experts in improvisation before us, it was only a matter of time before this keen audience got the opportunity to join in.  Cue a pantomime style back and forth between this enthusiastic crowd and Henry Shields, who egged us all on with a practiced ease.  This was a great moment for his character to lose that fiery temper of his as Chris Bean and we all just revelled in the joy and the palpable energy he created through his immense and impressive improvisation.  Henry Lewis has the vocal ability to bring any audience to its roaring knees.  His delivery of words is gymnastic, and his physical comedy and strength during a scene on a ledge was brilliant.  Dave Hearn is chortle-tastic as his loveable, childlike and endearing character.  His ability to act so daft, so free and without any inhibition wins the hearts of audience time and time again.  Rob Falconer plays the technically rubbish technician with such authenticity that you sometimes genuinely forget he is actually a part of the play.  He amusingly switches things up throughout and finds himself in many a compromising position!  Charlie Russell and Nancy Zamit deserve such respect for their partner work and how much they batter the potatoes out of each other!  It is superbly timed, and they never miss a beat.  Jonathan Sayer had us all chuckling at his ability to act like he can’t act, can’t remember lines and can’t understand the basics of reading a script.  His daft approach is brilliant throughout.  Greg Tannahill is the funniest corpse I have ever seen.  He doesn’t speak any lines for a long time, yet his stage presence and acting are so good that he makes everyone wait for delivery of his physical gags time and time again.  This truly is the dream team cast and I know for certain that, like many others in the audience, my Christmas wish this year is to become a member of Mischief.  The timing of The Play That Goes Wrong is everything, and this cast are leading experts in comedic timing, delivery and merging every element of stagecraft together as one.  I have to say, it’s so wrong, it’s right!  I’m begging you, for your own good, go and watch this show!  I know I’m saying this about a great deal of productions lately, but I promise that you will not regret it.  Don’t miss out and make it The Decision That Goes Wrong.



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