The Play That Goes Wrong opens in Orlando

If you like juvenile slapstick, then this is the play for you and judging from the hoots of laughter in the audience on opening night, “The Play That Goes Wrong”, you’d be forgiven for thinking the show was a raucous laugh riot. Personally, I found it silly and sophomoric with, thankfully, a few genuinely amusing moments laced sporadically in between.

This Mischief Theatre production has its roots at a pub theater in London before moving to the West End and eventually Broadway. It has won the Laurence Olivier Award for best comedy and that probably speaks more about the award itself than the performance actually presented.

Billed as “British” comedy, it’s entirely possible that some people think it to be completely accurate. Sadly it’s a good bet that those folks have never seen any of the 31 “Carry On” movies, from roughly the same time period in which this was set, and which were infinitely better than this. In fact, this was more Benny Hill in its delivery than past greats like Norman Wisdom, Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Arthur Askey. So much for America to learn. Anyway, I digress…\

The Cornley University Drama Society, an amateur troupe, has miraculously managed to land a big-city theater for its thriller “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” a country-house whodunit in the Agatha Christie tradition.

We begin with a corpse named Charles Haversham (Jonathan Harris), which, of course, will simply not lie still. We are subsequently introduced to a lineup of witless suspects in the classically creepy English manor drawing room.  There’s the dead man’s weird fiancée Florence (Sandra Wilkinson) and his old servant (Dennis Tyde); his treacherous brother Cecil (Dave Hearn), Charles’s best friend Thomas (Robert Grove)and Inspector Carter (Chris Bean.)

In a catalogue of staged mishaps that just weren’t particularly funny, with pictures falling off walls, doors opening, doors not opening, doors slamming, windows falling out, actors lines out of synch (planned), actors getting injured, a dead actor forgetting that he was supposed to play dead…….time and time again…., props going missing and so on, the play became more than a little tedious by the time the intermission came around. And boy, did we all need a break, except the cast was outside to continue their tom foolery as patrons lined up for drinks and snacks!

Fortunately, the second act was short… close on an hour and it was time to leave. Back to the real world…. but, is anything really real today?

Our advice…take it for what it is. An evening of silly and sometimes funny entertainment.

‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

  • Length: 2:20, including intermission
  • Where: Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando
  • When: Through Dec. 8
  • Cost: $44.50 and up
  • Info: or 844-513-2014


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