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Review of The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre

The Play That Goes WrongNever before has the title of a play been so apt, The Play That Goes Wrong, certainly lives up to its title and much more besides. Having already enjoyed two successful runs in the West End and sell-out success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Play That Goes Wrong has now set up home at the Duchess Theatre in the West End of London. Having picked up many awards and high accolades along the way, The Play That Goes Wrong seems to be going from strength to strength.

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society has a reputation of staging rather interesting versions of well-loved musicals and plays, however, it would seem their reputation is less than desirable. Their latest theatrical offering comes in the form of a 1920s murder mystery, ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor’. The story and plot are both basic, in that it is a story that has been presented time and time again, man found dead in his home, a house full of suspects, a detective is brought in to solve the mystery with dramatic revelations along the way. Whilst the story may be simple enough, the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society don’t seem to have grasped the notion of professionalism or what makes a successful production.

If you have ever had the misfortune to sit through a really bad amateur dramatic production you will be able to recognise some of the faux pas, only this time they are entertaining and highly hilarious, due to the fact that they are intentional. In a professional production, mistakes such as forgotten lines, ill-timed entrances and exits, a poorly constructed set, late sound or lighting cues and acknowledging the audience are all totally unforgivable and should never happen. The beauty with this play is that mistakes such as these are utilised and even celebrated.

From start to finish the entire audience was completely at the mercy of this wonderfully talented and gifted cast of actors. To call this play funny would be a gross understatement of epic proportions. The writing is pure genius, the basic dialogue is simple and effective with layer after layer of comedy gold. Each character has an important role in the delivery of this story. It is pointedly clear that each and every actor has worked hard at creating fully realised characters, each bringing something unique to this unique production.

The set plays a pivotal role, you could even consider the set as another member of the cast. Whilst the cast deliver perfectly executed comedy dialogue and impressive physical theatre, the set adds a visual element that will leave you speechless. At first glance the set may appear somewhat basic and out of place in a West End theatre, however, it is very typical of a low budget amateur dramatic performance. Just remember that appearances can be deceiving and whilst the set may appear to look amateur, the functions are far from it. You are in for a visual treat.

The entire cast work in complete synchronicity from the very beginning, delivering a slicker than slick production which at times was jaw-dropping from its sheer brilliance. Fast-paced, high energy and at times raucous but always very easy to follow, The Play That Goes Wrong is an absolute winner and is exactly what the theatre world needs.

5 Star Rating

Review by Haydn James

The Play That Goes Wrong
Duchess Theatre
3-5 Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5LA
Running Time: 2 Hours 5 Minutes
Age Restrictions: Suitable for ages 8+
Booking From: 5th September 2014

Book Tickets for The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre.


  • Haydn James

    Haydn trained as an actor at Rose Bruford Drama School. He has worked nationally and internationally in theatre and as an actor and entertainer in some of London’s top tourist attractions. He is now training to be a drama and performing arts lecturer. Haydn has always had a passion and love for the theatre and enjoys watching as much theatre as possible. Follow on Twitter @HaydnJames82

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