FEBRUARY 1, 2015 New york times

London Theater Journal: Laughing Wall to Wall

There’s nothing nuanced about “The Play That Goes Wrong,” a creation of the young and enterprising Mischief Theater troupe, and that’s a large source of its appeal. It starts off punch-drunk and just keeps getting drunker. Originally staged above a pub in north London two years ago, it is now ensconced at the Duchess Theater in the West End and seems likely to stay there for a while.

Its title is dead accurate. Most of the show, directed by Mark Bell, is a play-within-a-play (a moldy “Mousetrap”-style thriller performed by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society) that unfolds as a nightmarish series of mishaps. Lines are forgotten, props are lost, actors are injured, and the ramshackle scenery (by Nigel Hook) falls apart as if struck by a progressive earthquake.

The show’s premise is hardly new to farce. (It’s the basis of Michael Frayn’s blissful and far more sophisticated “Noises Off.”) And by rights, its slam-bang approach shouldn’t work as well as it does. Yet my audience (which included the sitcom queen Miranda Hart) roared pretty much nonstop.

Yes, I admit that I roared rather a lot myself. And honestly, that had nothing to do with the fact that at intermission, the actor playing the leading role handed me an envelope with my name on it. “I believe you dropped something,” he said ingratiatingly. Inside was a five-dollar bill (American money!), with a little note attached. It was labeled with a single word: “BRIBE.”

From a while ago in TIME OUT...

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