One of my favourite shows of 2017 was The Play That Goes Wrong. I love everything that I’ve seen from Mischief Theatre, and with The Play That Goes Wrong playing at Milton Keynes Theatre this week, I was very excited to get to relive the magic all over again.
The Play That Goes Wrong centres around Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s production of The Murder At Haversham Manor, and all the chaos that ensues when literally everything imaginable goes wrong. We’re talking falling sets, cast members being knocked out, props being in the wrong place at the wrong time, forgetful actors and a missing dog. It’s the best form of slapstick on the UK theatre scene right now.
Something I really appreciate them bringing on the road is the cast members walking through the auditorium searching for the aforementioned missing dog. It prepares the audience for the two hours about to follow in a really brilliant way, although they didn’t continue this through the interval like they do in the West End production. Other than that minor change, the play is pretty much identical to the West End production, with all the gags being the same.
However, for me the show didn’t work in this particular theatre. The stage was too big and with the same set being used, there seemed to be vast empty spaces at the edge of the stage. There are occasional nods to a box which most of the theatre can’t see, and I felt so far away from the stage, despite sitting in the stalls. Yes, Milton Keynes Theatre has around 3 times the amount of seats that the Duchess Theatre – home of The Play That Goes Wrong in London – has so we can expect certain aspects to have changed, but it just didn’t work. Normally the vastness of the theatre wouldn’t affect my perception of the performance; I’ve really enjoyed other things I’ve seen at Milton Keynes Theatre (in particular The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time), but the Duchess Theatre is so intimate compared to other venues that aspects of the production were lost.
That being said, if you’re after a night of laughs and don’t fancy trekking down to the West End, this is a pretty decent alternative. It’s brilliantly acted, albeit a little clunky in places (I think the first night in a new theatre can be a little bit of a stressful situation, so I am appreciative that it maybe wasn’t as slick as a longer running production), and the same gags kept me laughing just as much on tour as they did in London. I don’t think anyone can not like The Play That Goes Wrong, and the tour brings the show right to your doorstep.
This is The Play That Goes Wrong‘s third major UK tour, and is playing at Milton Keynes Theatre until 28th April.