This production closed with this performance.
The Play That Goes Wrong is that odd production that I'm glad I saw, enjoyed while I watched it, and the further from it, the less I like about it. Clearly, I am in the minority, as the play had a healthy Broadway run, and continues to this day off-Broadway at New World Stages. If the audience at the Kennedy Center (where I saw it) is any indication, there have been thousands of theater-goers who adored it.
Not that it matters, but the plot concerns a college dramatics society production of a play called The Murder at Haversham Manor. The conceit is that they are inept from the get-go and try valiantly to honor that adage, "the show must go on!" As one improbable thing after another "goes wrong," even the plot disappears altogether. What is frustrating is the completely unrelenting silliness that stops being attached to anything even close reality. That's what ultimately makes something truly funny. After a while, it just stops being funny. Well, that's not exactly true. I found myself laughing right up to the end when a few surprising bits popped up.
turn of Mara Davi. Sexy and smart, and surely made of rubber, she was a riot. Then there was Peyton Crim whose deep, rumbling voice made his spot-on dead pan delivery a whole new level of hilarious. Then there's Alex Mandell who did the impossible for me - he made highly exaggerated, nuance-free (and crazily athletic) acting consistently funny. Everyone else did well in a non-stand out way.
This is the very first show I've ever seen where the cast, in a move usually reserved for acknowledging the orchestra, recognized the set during the curtain call. I mean, it makes sense. It is as much (if not more) a character than any human in the company. It's not surprising that Nigel Hook won a Tony Award for his efforts. The other technical elements were very good, too, with an extra nod to Rob Falconer's witty score.
Ultimately, what really goes wrong with this play isn't the onstage mayhem, but rather outstaying its welcome. Always leave 'em wanting more, not less. Even college dramatic societies know that.
📸: M. Klein, A. Muir