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The Play That Goes Wrong review

The Marlowe Theatre appeals to such a wide range of audiences; with its varied program of events featuring plays, stand up comedy, dance, and musical theatre. Last time we visited the theatre SIX was in the midst of a 3 week run and this week we were there for something totally different: Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong. I was aware of the production when the press night invitation dropped into my inbox, but had very little knowledge of the synopsis or origin. The comedic play found a home in the West End back in 2014 and minus a break for the pandemic, it has been a source of laughter for London audiences ever since. After a difficult year of lockdowns, I couldn’t wait to be back in the theatre laughing and enjoying live comedy again. Fortunately the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society didn’t disappoint, bringing lots of chaos and disorganisation to the Marlowe stage.

The Play That Goes Wrong ticket in The Marlowe Theatre lobby, Canterbury

The plot

The Play That Goes Wrong is quite literally a play about a play that goes wrong. The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on a production of The Murder at Haversham Manor and over the course of 2 hours and 5 minutes (including a short interval) the audience learns why the society is renowned for its unfortunate performances. The 1920s era murder mystery starts well with a fully intact set and injury-free performers, but it only takes a few minutes of performance for things to take a turn for the worse. From the not-so-dead murder victim Charles Haversham/Jonathan (played by Seán Carey) to the paintings that constantly fall down, you are in for a hilarious ride when watching The Play That Goes Wrong. Full of set mishaps, line slip-ups, missing props and more, the play is an example of how countless mistakes on stage make for a truly hilarious show.

The humour

Canterbury Tales pub The Play That Goes Wrong sign

The comedic timing was absolutely on point, with every mishap on set generating a roar of laughter in the auditorium. The banging and crashing sound effects added to the humor, making every trip or fall seem way more dramatic, with reactions ranging from gasps to hysterical laughter. Everytime we visit the theatre it never ceases to amaze me how supportive and encouraging Marlowe audiences are. Reactions to dialogue are always to the same volume and level as audiences visiting the West End.

The cast

The Marlowe Theatre flat mates, Canterbury

With an impressively intimate cast of only 8 principle roles, The Play That Goes Wrong performers have such a great dynamic on stage. The actors bounce off each other and perform the accidents and mishaps so convincingly, making you genuinely second guess whether they are terrible actors in real life.

The relationship between Sandra (April Hughes) and Annie (Laura Kirman), who both take turns playing the murder mystery protagonist Florence, was so funny. The two characters make such a troublesome duo when on stage together. A special mention also goes out to the lighting and sound technician Trevor (Gabriel Paul) who does a fantastic job at warming the audience up before the show. It is Gabriel Paul’s naturally funny acting that really helps introduce the idea of a play within a play. He interacts with the audience prior to the performance, letting everyone know that a dog has gone missing before the show has even started.

What’s next for The Play That Goes Wrong UK tour?

The Play That Goes Wrong ticket in The Marlowe Theatre auditorium, Canterbury

There are 4 performances to go at The Marlowe Theatre before the tour continues around the country. There are a few seats still available online if you fancy a last minute evening of laughter, but if you’re not local to Kent the tour is stopping in lots of other cities across the country between now and late November.

Final thoughts

The Play That Goes Wrong* is a hilarious play for comedy and theatre fans. Pure chaos live on stage, I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the performance. The concept is simple but works so well, showing the audience the endless number of ways that live theatre can go a bit haywire!

Kat Masterson on the top floor of The Marlowe Theatre before The Play That Goes Wrong

At the end of the show, the actor who plays Chris (Tom Bulpett) gave an emotional speech about how much it means to be back in the theatre. This was such a lovely way to close the show and you could really tell how much it meant to the actors being back performing again. I look forward to hearing all about Mischief Theatre’s upcoming tours. What a brilliant evening at The Marlowe Theatre!

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx

*Our tickets for The Play That Goes Wrong were gifted in exchange for a review of the performance.



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