Theatre review: The Play That Goes Wrong

Silly, ridiculous and glorious, says Carrie Lyell


The Play That Goes Wrong. Images: Helen Murray


The laughs began even before the curtain had gone up at The Duchess Theatre for The Play That Goes Wrong last night, celebrating three years in London’s West End.


I didn’t know much about the Olivier-award winner written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields prior to taking my seat last night, so was a little surprised when “crew member” Jamie Birkett climbed onto my lap, shining a torch in my bag. But as fellow audience members were asked to search under their seats for a missing dog called Winston, I realised the show had already started.


The concept of the show is very clever: essentially, it’s a play within a play. Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on The Murder At Haversham Manor, and everything that can go wrong does, much to the chagrin of “director” Chris Bean, who plays Inspector Carter, played by Jack Baldwin.




It might sound confusing, but the talented cast pull it off expertly, and the laughs didn’t stop for two hours as this meta marvel treated a packed house to slapstick at its finest. The whodunit is tricky to follow while the set falls down around, so if you’re going for the murder mystery you might be disappointed. But there were no complaints from me – just big belly laughs.


Silly? Yes. Ridiculous? Completely. But also utterly glorious. An absolute riot and a must-see for fans of the absurd.     


For tickets and more information, visit


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