Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Play That Goes Wrong


The hardest-working actors on Broadway are onstage at the Lyceum Theatre in this London import, a witless farce in which they repeatedly risk life and limb. One must admire the cast of eight (Rob Falconer, Henry Shields, Greg Tannahill, Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Charlie Russell, Dave Hearn and Nancy Zamit) for creating vivid characters and precisely executing the script’s many slapstick bits. It’s amazing that they can get through a performance without serious injury. The underlying conceit is that a college drama society is presenting a hoary mystery, ”The Murder at Haversham Manor.” One could argue that the real star of the production is the set by Nigel Cook that is ready to injure the actors in innumerable ways. The costumes by Roberto Surace are a hoot. Lewis, Shields and Sayer are credited as authors. Director Mark Bell keeps things moving relentlessly. While I feel a bit churlish criticizing a work that had me laughing uncontrollably several times, I had a problem with the play’s length. I would have liked it twice as much if it had been half as long. Two plus hours of repetitive slapstick without much plot or any wit is more than I can enjoy. If you really, really love slapstick, you may have a wonderful time. It did win the 2015 Olivier for best comedy. Running time: two hours ten minutes including intermission.

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