Her Majesty’s Theatre
Until 02 Apr 2017

Review by Jamie Wright

"The Play that Goes Wrong" – written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields is firstly, as the title suggests, a play-within-a-play: "The Murder at Haversham Manor", as performed by the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society. Secondly, it most certainly goes wrong – to the horror of the performers and stage crew, and the delight of the audience.

Originally directed by Mark Bell, with the Australian cast directed by Sean Turner, it's a frenetic, laugh-a-minute madcap romp that owes as much to Michael Frayn's "Noises Off" (itself an Olivier winner for Best New Comedy) as it does to the slapstick of physical of silent film legends Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. But it's not all pratfalls; there are some not-so-subtle digs at terrible acting, underprepared (and inattentive) stage crew and uninspired murder mystery plays (think dire Agatha Christie knockoffs) as well.

The combination of excellent writing, ingenious direction and exceptional performances from a fearless (and almost certainly bruised and battered) cast means that it never for a moment gets dull; in fact, I was almost glad of the interval in order to get some respite from the onslaught.

Huge props to the cast – Adam Dunn, Nick Simpson-Deeks, Darcy Brown, Luke Joslin, George Kemp, Brooke Satchwell, James Marlowe, Tammy Weller, Francine Cain, Jordan Prosser, Matthew Whitty – for their exceptional work. To achieve what they achieve requires a heck of a lot of skill and determination, particularly given the length of the show and the pace at which it travels – and they do it all in character. Set by Nigel Hook is both visually and mechanically stunning.

A brilliant production and some of the funniest, most ridiculous theatre you're likely to see for a long time.