Arts / Play goes wrong and the laughs come fast

JON Nicholls, producer of the touring production “The Play That Goes Wrong”, was enjoying himself onstage at the Canberra Theatre yesterday telling the assembled media how this hugely popular show got started in a humble pub called the Red Lion.

A dangerous moment in ‘The Play That goes wrong” photo Jeff Busby

And why not? The unlikely show about the most incompetent theatre group in the world is now playing in six continents, he explained, with its spinoffs, “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” and “The Nativity Play Goes Wrong” running concurrently with “The Play That Goes Wrong” on the West End.

Described as “Fawlty Towers” meets “Noises Off”, the show sees the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society putting on a 1920s murder mystery.

The full cast- corpse included, photo Jeff Busby

Audiences are treated to an evening of bad acting, appalling technical blunders and missed cues and moves so dangerous that your fear for the performers. This kind of farce, unremitting in its intensity, is the hardest theatre to perform.

The portrait on the wall is wrong, the clock is set to the wrong time, the props go missing and the set threatens imminent collapse. So real are the mishaps that you have to wonder about the company’s insurance.

Need we say that it’s all for fun? That’s why after playing here, in Brisbane and Perth, it will do a reprise season in Sydney. The audiences, Nicholls says, just can’t stop laughing.

 “The Play That Goes Wrong,” at The Canberra Theatre, until April 28, bookings to or 6275 2700.

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