Review: Funniest play in the West End? The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre
The Play That Goes Wrong is, ironically, a brilliant example of how it can go brilliantly right in the theatre. Mischief Theatre's play started out life in a pub theatre before being picked up by the Trafalgar Studios 2 where I saw it in May 2013. I described it as a real rib-tickler then and was delighted when I heard it was transferring to the West End proper to the Duchess Theatre.
With a West End budget behind it surely it would go from strength to strength? Well, it has. My ribs weren't so much tickled as stretched to aching point.
They've embellished the story from the fringe production and of course the set is far more elaborate, there is even a mezzanine which adds a whole new comic element - but I'll come onto that.
As the title suggests its about a play that doesn't quite go to plan. Cornley Polytechnic is putting on a murder mystery. They don't have a great track record but this will be their 'best yet'.
The tone is set at you arrive at the theatre with back stage crew running around front of house trying to find 'Winston' the spaniel. And on stage desperate attempts are still being made to fix the set in place. It is worth arriving and taking your seat early although you may well find yourself up on stage holding the mantel piece in place.
The new mezzanine 'office' part of the set is a bit of a health and safety nightmare (not that the rest of the set is 'safe'), it's too small for the number of actors and has a decidedly dodgy lift.
There is a great skill in creating something that looks this chaotic and the comic timing is impeccable. Towards the end it almost slips from farce to ridiculous but the laughs have been big and plentiful up to that point it doesn't really matter.
The Play That Goes Wrong is the funniest play I've seen in a long, long time and quite possibly the funniest thing that's on in the West End at the moment. It's an evening of pure unadulterated silliness and I think my face is still aching.
It's 2 hours and 10 minutes long with an interval and booking until September. Go on, treat yourself to a laugh.