anya de villiers, ashh blackwood, charlie richards, comedy, duchess theatre, henry lewis, henry shields, jack whittle, jaouhar ben ayed, jonathan sayer, london, mark bell, mikhail sen, mischief, nimax theatres, oliver mott, physical comedy, scott hunter, stuart vincent, the play that goes wrong, tomisin ajani, west end
Since 2014, Mischief’s signature humour has conquered the London scene with its now worldwide acclaimed comedy – much to the horror of its company! After his miraculous survival from such an excrutiating experience, Guillermo Názara shares the details about the show’s newest media night, to let us know if everything went as wrong as desired.
As fair representatives of the national artform, West End venues are comitted to the highest standards when putting on a show – making sure that the worlwide known quality of British theatre is properly maintained. Thus, the district is packed with decade-running productions still welcoming pilgrins from all over the globe – hungry to feast on the delight of fine acting and exquisite writing. Then, there’s Murder at Haversham Manor, a luckluster knockoff of Agatha Christie’s whodunnit style (and for all we care, her record-breaking work The Mousetrap) played by untalented unprofessional performers desperate for ten seconds of glory (if they have ever understood the meaning of that word) – although their struggle makes it seem far, far longer.
Poor directing, a clear lack of rehearsals (or a boderline inability to learn) and weak storytelling join forces -excuse the pun- to create the most unbearable play I’ve ever reviewed – and I’ve been doing this job for years! Organized by the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society (a group whose members don’t do any justice to its pompous name), this product is a flawless example of why community theatre should have never been granted a place within the professional sector, taking the spotlight from those who deserve it better (even if it is by just an inch).
Arrogantly enough, these pathetic bunch of buffoons (no disrepect to the actual occupation) have the gall to carry on with their ever-going list of failed attempts – their previous crown jewels include down-down-down-scaled versions of Andrew Lloyd Webber material and weird experiments that should have served as evidence to take them all to an asylum and throw the key away. Still not tired of making fools out of themselves (well, it’s difficult to remake what’s already done), the company accepts the laughable challenge of presenting a cheap mystery melodrama that hardly does any impact on the audience except for their hysterical cackles.
Only one lady refused to go with the tide, or so the host/director/lead actor Chris Bean -aka Mikhail Sen- pointed out. As for the rest, the almost sold-out house (still wondering how they managed to achieve that) could not restrain itself from chuckling and howling (the latter much more predominant) at what looked like a doomed merry-go-round of theatrical misfortune. It’s painful to watch – not only due to the frightful abomination running wild before your eyes, but because so much uncontrollable guffawing ends up hurting.
Not even one scene is done right! That could be the sole phrase to review this play and just with it I would have said it all. But I’m on the sadistic task of going through every traumatising detail to warn you of what’s in store if you dare venture into Covent Garden’s black sheep’s lair. I would not exaggerate if I said that not even one minute passed by without any unexpected «impro» taken place. Bloopers are comprehensible in a live show and actors are often praised for their capacity to make up for them – neither of which was the case here. It seems as if they were a magnet for accidents – or more precisely, they were the accident itself.
It feels weird to say it but it’s like it was too terrible to be true. But how can such a catastrophe be so effectively coordinated, let alone staged? Could a cast really be (or at least, appear) so spontaneous calamity after calamity? Can practical jokes be synchronized in such a believable way? Could the unerasable despair printed on those poor creatures’ faces be nothing but the result of an exceptional comedy bone? I seriously don’t think so. That’s just the wishful thinking of a reporter who’s only trying to be kind – as he has hopefully proved throughout this review. Surprisingly enough, the show is still on display (and has been running for almost 8 years now), so if you want to join the infamous group of those of us who have been foolish enough to be trapped for the two most (…gee, I’m not even gonna say it…) hours of our lives, be might guest. But might my words (and what lies between them too).
5/5 stars (for those who didn’t get it).
The Play That Goes Wrong is performed at London’s Duchess Theatre from Tuesday to Sunday. Tickets are available on the following link.