CSC’s “The Play That Goes Wrong” is Slapstick Done Right

Director Brian Isaac Phillips sets the perfect tone for the production. Even before the metaphorical curtain rises, the audience is giggling with anticipation for what promises to be a zany evening. 

Review by Nathan Top

If everyone in the world, at least once a week, sees a play as funny and uninhibited as The Play That Goes Wrong, the world will be a happier place. Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields of the prolific British Mischief Theatre company, the satirical murder mystery play-within-a-play is two hours (including intermission) of non-stop mayhem.

Creative Team

Director Brian Isaac Phillips sets the perfect tone for the production. Even before the metaphorical curtain rises, the audience is giggling with anticipation for what promises to be a zany evening. 

Crew members put the final touches on the set, foreshadowing future gaffes. Cast members float through and interact with the audience. Some audience members are even drawn onstage to “help” with the set construction of the large Agatha Christie-esque manor.

The production crew are truly the heroes of the show. Scenic designer Samatha Reno’s set is a playground filled with booby traps, eliciting laughs and gasps throughout the night, essentially the eighth character of the show. The set appropriately falls apart, leading to some wild and hilarious stunts throughout the show. 

Cast of The Play That Goes Wrong at CSC
Cast of The Play That Goes Wrong at CSC.

Lighting designer Alice Trent and Sound designer Chris Guthrie’s perfectly timed cues (both correct and incorrect for the world of the show) add a third dimension to the comedy. Fight choreographer Gina Verimele-Mechley’s work in creating some vaudevillian-style slapstick moments elicits some of the biggest laughs of the evening. 

The costumes, by Rainy Edwards, are versatile and resilient. The cast members (and costumes) go through a lot throughout the show. From being torn from the actor’s bodies to being covered in powder and liquid (with the label “paint thinner”), the costumes take a beating, matching the devolution of the cast members themselves.

Cast

Geoffrey Warren Barnes II as John/Charles Haversham, is suitably cartoonish as an actor playing a dead body who can’t seem to keep his eyes closed. 

The Play That Goes Wrong
Justin McCombs and Geoffrey Warren Barnes II in The Play That Goes Wrong at CSC.

Darnell Pierre Benjamin and Candice Handy showcase their prowess for physical comedy as Trevor and Annie, two stagehands inevitably dragged into the onstage drama. Handy shares some particularly amusing moments with Kelly Mengelkoch (Sandra/Florence Colleymoore) towards the comedic climax of the show. 

Jeremy Dublin (Chris/Inspector Carter), Billy Chace (Robert/Thomas Colleymoore), Matthew Lewis Johnson (Max/Cecil Haversham), and Justin McCombs (Denis/Perkins) make a comical quartet that would make the Marx Brothers proud. Their kinetic energy bounces off each other for the better part of the two-hour show. 

Cast of The Play That Goes Wrong at CSC
Cast of The Play That Goes Wrong at CSC.

Get Tickets

While a full length production of controlled chaos and belly laughs may be exhausting by the end, The Play That Goes Wrong is well worth the time and admission. It emits great joy. Suitable for ages 10+. Running now through June 16th, tickets can be purchased here.

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