The Play went Wrong for the Theatre Club

The latest visit for the Theatre Club was to see The Play that Goes Wrong at Oxford Playhouse on 23rd January 2018.

The mayhem started even before the play itself; the theatre displayed a sign for the wrong play, a frantic cast member trawled the auditorium for a missing dog and an audience member was prevailed upon to help fix the collapsing scenery in a taste of what was to come. The scene was further set by an introduction from the play’s ‘Director’, who described a previous history of theatrical catastrophes. When the play did get going, it quickly became evident that the title is a gross understatement. The plot is ridiculous, the cast are shambolic and miscast over-actors and the set has a malevolent life of its own. Every single thing that could go wrong goes wrong.

The performances were extravagantly awful, but they were supposed to be. The cast played their parts with a bemused but energetic determination to finish the performance, regardless of what was happening around them. The gags were fired out in such a scattergun manner that it was impossible to not find something in there to appeal to every sense of humour. There is comedy in every minute, if not second, of the play, some of it traditional physical farce and some of it in more subtle actions and wordplay. One scene was played with the lines in the wrong order; one scene trapped the actors in an increasingly manic loop of repeated lines; props got mixed up and cast members substituted for each other and bits of furniture. The script is crammed with gag after gag after gag; it is literally achingly funny.

The star of the night, however, was the set. It started out being held together with duct tape and ended up literally in pieces. The action in the second half of the play was almost entirely directed by its gradual disintegration. It was absolutely ingenious, and a delight to watch, as the cast attempted to continue with the play despite the mortal peril posed by collapsing pieces of set.

‘The Play that Goes Wrong’ makes for an incredibly enjoyable evening; brilliant writing, award-winning set design and laugh-out-loud comedy. I’d see it again in a heartbeat… and a hard hat.