The Play that Goes Wrong

In honor of the State of the Union, it seemed like the perfect night to see The Play that Goes Wrong. From the description, it sounded like the second coming of Noises Off, which I think turned out to be a fair guess. It’s hilarious, of course, especially if you get orchestra seats at the Rush price.

I count myself a fan of these British slapstick frame-device productions, not that I’ve seen more than a few. There’s The Black Comedy of course, and … that’s all I can remember. Wrong is very much part of the genre, an Agatha Christie homage that rapidly descends into hysterical mayhem.

Wrong might be the most technical comedy I have ever seen. Yes, the actors are amazing; without breaking character, they spend the entire production playing bad actors, each terrible in their own very peculiar way. But above all it’s the set that is the star of this show. From the very start, the play’s central theme is that the set is badly constructed and not quite finished. In fact, the set is a technical marvel, full of impossible and terrifying misbehaviors that literally place the actors in increasingly awkward positions, until it all comes crashing down at the end. The set is so intricately designed and precisely actuated for its purpose that I think it might qualify as puppetry. The set is a member of the cast, operated by a highly skilled but invisible team of set crew/puppetmasters.

It’s a miracle that no one gets hurt.

That means that unlike Noises Off, which my high school’s theatre group once performed, you won’t be seeing The Play that Goes Wrong with anyone but professionals — so you might as well see it on Broadway.

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