Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Play That Goes Wrong

Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, Kenny Wax Ltd and Stage Presence in association with David Atkins Enterprises and ABA present the Mischief Theatre company Production of THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, in the Roslyn Packer Theatre, Hickson Rd Walsh Bay. 5 April - 21 May.

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is by three writers, Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer (both LAMDA graduates) and Henry Shields. It was a production by Mischief Theatre at the Old Lion Theatre, London, that was picked up commercially and has had an extraordinary success in the West End, London, and recently opened in New York. From little things great things grow! This production has an Australian company of actors - with one exception - Directed by a British Director, Sean Turner.

I saw this production a week after the press night. The large audience in the Roslyn Packer Theatre were, what in the industry are known as the "GP" (i.e. General Public). I didn't meet or see anyone that I knew - no 'professional' theatre goers, then, no Opening Night 'snobs'. This audience responded to this 'show' with a generosity of heart and hilarity from the first 'beats' of the comedy, that began before the play proper, and carried on, unflaggingly, throughout a generous two hour length, that included an interval (a necessary rest for most of the audience, it seemed to me). One would have to be a 'hard hearted adamant' not to respond to what was going on, firstly, on stage, and secondly, in the auditorium, with anything but a fun-filled humour.

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is a silly but constantly hilarious performance of THE MURDER AT FAVERSHAM MANOR, by Susie H.K. Brideswell, Produced, Directed, Designed and everything else, as well as starring, Chris Bean, for the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society.

What can go wrong during a performance goes wrong in this show. Now, for anyone that has ever participated in the theatre, whether amateur or professional, you will recognise most, if not all of the disasters that are strewn across the two hours of traffic on this stage. Fortunately, though I recognised most of the events, they never occurred, in my experiences, all on the one night - 'til now! Clearly, this audience I was with recognised the veracity of the disasters in front of their eyes. Besides, helpless long choruses of laughter, there were also many, many rounds of applause as the actors of THE MURDER AT FAVERSHAM MANOR coped, and, often, ingeniously, solved the problems arising, so that the Show Must Keep Going-on.

What you see has to be seen to be believed. And what you see will not let you sit there with a po faced grip unless you are 'dead'. - even then, considering the energy of attention and appreciation of the audience around one, a comic infection will take place and one will be 'electrified' as Frankenstein's monster was into life and be urged to cry out as Olivia does in TWELFTH NIGHT (in different circumstances) "How now! Even so quickly may one catch the plague ... Methinks I feel this [play's] perfections, with an invisible and subtle stealth, to creep in at mine eyes' and ears, and bids one to surrender to all this joyful silliness.

Of recent times ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS, NOISES OFF, two 'BIG' commercial farces have swept their audiences, in Sydney, into a frenzy of comic release, and maybe as a sign of the needs of our contemporary life mood, young Australian writers such as Declan Greene with his play, THE HOMOSEXUALS OR FAGGOTS and Kate Mulvany and her, THE RASPUTIN AFFAIR, have embraced the world of FARCE, to entertain (enlighten) their audience.

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, unlike, perhaps some of the other plays I have mentioned, does not necessarily set out with any deep social agenda/issue to extrapolate, except, perhaps to entertain and induce an admiration of the need to survive and to keep going, no matter the obstacles.

Adam Dunn, Nick Simpson-Deeks, Darcy Brown, Luke Joslin, George Kemp, Brooke Satchwell, Tammy Weller, Francine Cain, Jordan Prosser, Matthew Whitty and Resident Director and Actor - an actor from the London experience - James Marlowe, are outrageously heroic and adept in keeping this most difficult form of theatre humming along with a fearless and generous skill and, I have to say, courage - it looks dangerous! In the original ingenious Set Design by Nigel Hook, Lighting by Ric Mountjoy and Costume Design by Roberto Surace, a terrific night can be had in the theatre.

Suspend any intellectual pretensions and you will find a vulnerability to the possible health virtues of the effects of generous comedy bubbling irresistibly to the surface of your presence. You might even have a lighter step as you go out of the theatre to 'face the day' we are all living through in 2017 - rain or no rain, Syria, North Korea, Puitn or no Putin, Trump or no Trump, Hanson or no Abbott. I had a great time not only because of the events on the stage but because I was surrounded by an audience absolutely having a visceral fun filled delight, and it was difficult to resist either of those energies. I can recommend THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG to those with an appreciation/sense of the ridiculous - that also has, for some of us, (though for most of this audience, it seemed) observations of theatrical stage disasters, that at our re-union theatre gatherings we re-call with embroidered enthusiasms. (The stories of the STC NICHOLAS NICKLEBY company have kept many a friendship aright and alight! - don't ask. ... Well, if you must,begin by asking any of us: "What was the Brooker Club?")


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