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The Play That Goes Wrong

A Play where Organised Chaos is Perfected

By Louw Mulder

The scene is set. It is opening night of the Northriding Polytechnic Drama Society’s production of Murder at Haversham Manor. The actors in this play are dedicated, loyal, and also very excited to perform. Everything is ready, the lights go out, the director makes his opening speech, and then everything just goes wrong.

Stomach-spasm laughter is guaranteed for the real theatre audience, who also play a role in this play, witnessing the chaos that unfolds when the play goes wrong. It is a classic murder mystery play, where the inspector has to solve the mystery and find the murderer. The comedy aspect of this play and the sheer enjoyment of watching it, takes all the suspense out of it.

By arrangement with Goes Right Ltd, Pieter Toerien Productions presents this Mischief Theatre Production of The Play That Goes Wrong, which was written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields.

It is seldom that I emphasise the direction of a play, but with The Play That Goes Wrong, the hand of Alan Committie was hilariously evident. It is very tricky to perfect things that go wrong. It is very difficult to master the idea of everything to go intentionally wrong. In this play, everything goes wrong, and to direct a play in such a way where organised chaos is executed so well, shows class, talent, and skill.

The same can almost be said about the actors who have to get everything right, to get everything to go wrong. The best thing about this play, is that should an actor make a real mistake on stage, it can be seen as just another thing going wrong within the play, which makes the mistake, not a mistake.

The cast consist of Russel Savadier, Theo Landy, Nicole Franco, Sive Gubangxa Louis Viljoen, Roberto Pombo, and recently seen in Sherlock Holmes, Robert Fridjohn and Craig Jackson. The highlight of the show for me personally, comes from Craig Jackson. The success of his performance is mostly attributed by the nature of his character, but the talent of Jackson is entertainingly fitting to his role, as the amateur actor. As an ensemble, the casts works perfectly. There is a sense of enjoyment between the members of this cast, and their love for this production shows in their performance.

Sitting here, I am quietly giggling again when I think about some of the scenes. But how then do I write a fitting review about all of that. I just can’t. But I can urge everyone who loves theatre to go see this show. It runs at the Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre until 30 April, before it moves to Theatre on the Bay in Cape Town from 3 May 2017.

In the words of Committie: “There is a particular beauty to physical comedy. When performed accurately and with care it really is an art form that takes us back to the glory years of the greatest visual comics.”


This review is edited by Bronwyn Kerry.  Photos by Christiaan Kotze

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