Prior to the journalism trip to New York, Rank&Filer Emma Mobley looked up the play we were set to see. I heard her quote, “It’s a gut-busting comedy,” from the show’s website. Only later did I realize how true that statement was.
“The Play That Goes Wrong” is a British play about, well, a play that goes wrong. The play in the play is about the murder of Charles Haversham. After he is found dead, Inspector Carter comes to investigate the crime and uncovers the traditional red herrings and plot twists. Where the play digresses from the norm, however, is how it leans into its mistakes.
Everything you could think of going wrong did, in the best possible way.
As soon as you walk into the theater, you’re thrown into the mishaps of the play. The playbill was even printed off-center to foreshadow the amazing absurdity of the next two hours.
The shenanigans began when the tech crew went out into the crowd to see if anyone had seen a dog under their seats. That question seemed so random until the scene where the dog was supposed to go on—without the actual dog. The actors had to mime the dog’s presence and even bark themselves to fill in the gaps of sound.
I also loved how the mistakes themselves shaped the characters. For example, the actor who played the butler lost confidence in himself after continuously having to look at his hand for complicated words and, even then, pronouncing them wrong. The increasing annoyance of the actors as the play fell apart added to this.
However, there were times where the comedy was dragged out for too long. The pauses in these moments weren’t always filled with laughter, and I felt as though they mimicked the pauses in a laugh-track sitcom.
But overall, the play created a coherent story through a mess of things falling apart, missing props and forgotten lines, which is truly astounding.
Every time I explain this play to someone I tell them the truth: “You will be laughing for two hours straight.”
“The Play That Goes Wrong” will be coming to the Kennedy Center from July 20 to Aug 13, and if you are able to, please, please see the show.
I can’t recommend it enough!