The Play That Goes Wrong – Bord Gais Energy Theatre – Review by Fran Winston
Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2
June 26th to July 1sty 7.30pm nightly. Matinees 2.30pm June 28th and July 1st
If ever a play did what it says on the tin, it’s this. Anything that can go wrong does go wrong for the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they attempt to stage a 1920s murder mystery (think anything by Agatha Christie and you get the idea). In fairness you might wonder why you would want to see a play which is warning you in advance that everything goes pear shaped. Well, perhaps because their mishaps and mayhem will provide you with some of the biggest belly laughs you’ve ever had.
The show begins even before the curtain goes up with cast members wandering the foyer looking for Winston (Yes, that was slightly confusing for me!) Winston it transpires is a canine cast member who has gone AWOL but that is only the beginning of the director’s woes. With an amateur cast all gurning for attention and an FX guy who would rather be listening to Duran Duran, this is amateur hour through and through. Add some dodgy props and sets into the mix and you have the recipe for some of the best slapstick and situation comedy you will see on stage.
Of course, the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is a fictional creation and these are professional actors playing the roles. The play at the heart of the, well, play is also a fictional creation. But the laughs are very real and delivered in quick succession, with the audience barely having time to catch breath before another situation unfolds.
This is incredibly reliant on the physicality of the performers and they are all amazing, throwing themselves into it with gusto. Even when you can see something coming the way they handle it makes it truly hilarious. This is good old fashioned slapstick that harks back to the likes of Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin or more recently Frank Spencer in Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘Em.
Interestingly, this play was first performed in 2013 above a pub no less. But it has gone on to become both a West End and Broadway hit. It’s not hard to see why. I can honestly say that the audience was in stitches from start to finish and while many of the gags may be a bit clichéd it doesn’t make them any less entertaining. It is impossible not to get caught up in the sheer ridiculousness of it all. And if you’ve ever performed any kind of am dram (or even a school play) you will absolutely get a sense of what the “cast” are feeling.
Brilliantly funny this will leave you with a huge grin on your face , a stitch in your side and is definitely a must see.