The Play That Goes Wrong, Theatre Review. Storyhouse Theatre, Chester.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *

Cast: Gabriel Paul, Catherine Dryden, Jake Curran, Steven Rostance, Kazeem Tosin Amore, Benjamin McMahon, Elena Valentine, Bobby Hirston, Liam Horrigan, David Kristopher-Brown, Loisa Sexton, Laura White.

The British obsession with murder is not about the act itself but the conviction on behalf of the reader or the artistic voyeur to see the restoration of justice, the balancing of the scales, done and unarguably dusted. The most despicable of crimes and acts against another person is everywhere, on television, in films, in literature, it seems the British cannot get enough and it is why murder is a popular genre to be part of; everybody wants to be the armchair detective.

Murder most foul, especially in the hands of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they perform against all odds Susie H.K. Brideswell’s Murder At Haversham Manor, a murder that soon turns to the death of theatre.

To perform as one in a show designed to be as farcical as possible, to be seen as ungainly, the absolute wreck of a company with all their jealousies and mean spirited ways coming to the foreground and have the word ham come across within the stage atmosphere, is nothing short of brilliant, truly the epitome of farce, something really only captured when one thinks of The Flint Street Nativity or the giant of the stage Noises Off. Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong should be seen in the same stunning realms as those particular plays.

In a production that is faultless, that carries with it the absolute hope of humour, slapstick and comedy all in its weighty bag, it is near impossible to single out any actor for absolute praise but in the two leading female parts, stage hand Anne and Sandra, all the passions, hates and jealousy comes right out and takes the audience further than they can imagine; to witness this unfolding of the female psyche is played out with intensity and absolute drive.

Farce is difficult, problematic, if not played straight, if not convincing enough, it can be a mess, it takes genius to perform and be directed by, and for Mischief Theatre Director Mark Bell and the team on stage; the farce was perfectly presented, keenly and strictly adhered to and a true pleasure to see being performed inside Chester’s Storyhouse Theatre.

The Play That Goes Wrong is undoubtedly one of the great farces of our times, one that stands shoulder to shoulder with Michael Frayn and Tim Firth.

Ian D. Hall