“In all my years as a theatrical connoisseur, I have always found productions of the works of Susie H.K. Brideswell to be of the highest caliber and of the most moving nature. What I witnessed last night as the Cornley Drama Society took to the stage of the prestigious Miami University (which to my great surprise was NOT located in the more southern state of Florida), was anything but that. The lines were forgotten, the set was borderline a health hazard, and at times the cast and crew were exchanging roles as if this was something from the Royal Variety Show! In few words I would sum this production up as a PLAY THAT GOES WRONG.”
The above paragraph is an excerpt from a review (read prior to writing this one) from Mr. J.G. Snively, a British theatre critic who was able to view the show during the dress rehearsal process. This is also of course fictitious–as is everything in Miami University’s production of The Play that Goes Wrong.
The Play that Goes Wrong is a real play written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields of Mischief Theatre Company. The show, written in 2012, has been running in London, Broadway, or touring ever since.
The main premise is that a fictional British theatre company (The Cornley Drama Society) is putting on a production of an Agatha Christie inspired murder mystery production (much akin to The Mousetrap, still running after over 70 years in London’s West End). That said, this production is anything but run of the mill. The set’s are flimsy, the actors are either way too into character, knocked out, or not even actors at all, all culminating in one of the funniest written shows in a long time.
The Plot of The Play That Goes Wrong
The comedy in this show comes from, simply put, when things go wrong. The actual plot of the play the company (the Cornley Drama Society) is attempting to mount is entirely irrelevant to the comedy that ensues around them. One of the core tenets of this production’s comedy is slapstick, think the Three Stooges, Tom and Jerry, or Looney Tunes.
One of the funniest moments involves one of the actors accidentally handcuffed to a chaise lounge. He must then maneuver around the stage whilst carrying said chaise lounge on his back, while still attempting to stay in character. I don’t want to describe too many of the comedic moments so as to not spoil the humor in this show. Note that there is a rather impressive moment of a bait and switch involving one of the actors being thrown out a window and then appearing back inside of a clock.
Miami’s “The Play That Goes Wrong” is directed by Lewis Magruder with Scene Design by Curtis Mortimore and Brian C. Seckfort. Costumes by Lisa Martin-Stuart and Lighting by Cassie Mings.
Overall, if you enjoy slapstick comedy, a well-written show that goes to places you would have never thought possible in a comedy, and want to see some amazingly produced technical theatre, then this is the show for you. The student actors are putting their all on this stage in this production. If this is as good a review as any, the night I saw it, the audience was laughing at around 2-minute intervals. So that is a solid laugh-to-length-of-show ratio.