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Stage Dragon Review: ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ At The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 10 Aug, 2022
Updated on: 11 Aug, 2022

By Ferenc Hepp

Take some tissues and make sure you have medical insurance, but do try and catch this week’s show at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre if you can to enjoy an evening of hilarity and quality entertainment.

Mischief Theatre makes a welcome return with a hilarious, five-star performance of one of its most popular shows, The Play That Goes Wrong.

In fact, the friend who accompanied me said he laughed so much and that he was constantly wiping tears from his eyes, he even hurt his shoulder by the end of the evening.

The Play That Goes Wrong at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

It last had a sell-out run in Guildford in 2014. Other productions from the same company include Groan Ups, Mischief Movie Night, Magic Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

This is a play within a play called The Murder at Haversham Manor, presented by (fictional) Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, starring Chris Bean, directed by Chris Bean, designed by Chris Bean…. and everything goes wrong, exactly as it says on the tin.

There is some pre-show action where we meet some of the stage management and are prompted to look for Trevor’s (Gabriel Paul) lost dog and his Duran Duran Box Set.

He has a rather laid-back attitude as if he does not care too much about the show, but he certainly gets very much more involved later on.

The Play That Goes Wrong at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

Annie, the stage manager (Beth Lilly) makes a valiant attempt at trying to hold the set together (often literally) and transforms in even more of a dramatic fashion from a techie to someone who enjoys the limelight and who fights for her time to shine when the leading lady gets knocked out by a door… several times.

Colin Burnicle as Chris Bean has a wonderfully typical British persona who tries to be in charge and not only introduces the play to us, but then stars in it as the inspector who attempts to solve the mystery of the death of Charles Haversham.

However, Steven Rostance as Charles is not merely a dead body on stage. He has numerous comic moments where he needs to move either due to someone stepping on him, or dropping him, followed by a number of hysterical inadvertent appearances all at the wrong times.

Damien James by contrast is the rather understated Perkins the Butler, who just wants to make sure that he gets through his lines, and often relies on the words written on his hand which are not always pronounced in quite the correct way.

Aisha Numah’s completely over-the-top Florence played as a diva provides plenty of laughs, mainly due to her physicality, and Harry Boyd, who is normally an understudy, gave a good performance as Thomas.

The highlight was Edi De Melo’s portrayal of Cecil Haversham and he is the one who got the majority of the laughs from the full house on Tuesday. Melo is the complete  package, perfect for this show.

As the Polytechnic’s Max, he loves being on stage and often breaks character and gives us a knowing smile when he receives a laugh, and his representative movements accompanying his lines, along with his agility are highly entertaining and hilarious.

The Play That Goes Wrong at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

For the show to be true to its title and go so horribly wrong so perfectly every time, takes a huge amount of skill from everyone on stage, but a special mention must also go to Mark Bell as the original director, Sean Turner as the tour director and Nigel Hook as the set designer, as it is thanks to them that the visual humour works so well due to its unpredictability, and therefore providing the laughs along the way.

The Play That Goes Wrong runs until Saturday, August 13, and tickets are available via www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk or by calling the box office on 01483 440000.

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