The cast of the Australian production of The Play That Goes Wrong.
The cast of the Australian production of The Play That Goes Wrong. Jeff Busby

A stage comedy so wrong it's right

A LOT has to go right on stage in The Play That Goes Wrong.

The slapstick comedy, created by the UK's Olivier Award-winning Mischief Theatre company, follows the accident-prone actors of the fictional Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they attempt to put on the 1920s murder mystery The Murder at Haversham Manor.

Set pieces start falling off the walls even before the play within a play officially begins, so make sure to get to your seat a little earlier than normal to observe the hilarity.

Crew members scurry around trying to pick up the pieces, with a little help from the audience, before the director introduces what he's sure will be a vast improvement on the drama society's troubled past productions like 'The Lion and the Wardrobe' and 'Ugly and the Beast'.

But things soon descend into choreographed chaos as anything that can possibly go wrong does.

It took the cast months to perfect all of the comedy's mishaps, which they execute with split-second timing.

"At the beginning (of rehearsals) it's potentially very dangerous," says James Marlowe, who reprises his West End role as Max for the Australian production.

"You get it to a point where it's slow and safe. Then you get it to a point where it's fast and safe but it looks safe (to the audience), so you have to make it look dangerous again even though you worked so hard to make it so controlled.

"Not only are you pushing your physicality to the limit in this show, but the margins for error are so fine.

"When you're working with the margin of the grip on a shoe as to whether it (a stunt) will or won't work you can see how intense and limit pushing it is."

This side-splitting comedy is currently playing to packed houses in the West End and on Broadway.

This is Mischief Theatre's first Australian tour and Marlowe also serves as resident director.

"It's been quite funny being the token 'pom' here; they tease me about spiders and snakes and all the rest of it," he laughs.

"We have such a great cast here, and what's amazing is the audiences are very similar. What's a credit to the writing is that if you compare the laugh tracks from here to the West End they're very similar.

"The Aussie audiences do seem to have a real affinity with Trevor, who is the drama society's technician."

The Play That Goes Wrong has been described as a mix between Noises Off and Fawlty Towers.

"This show gets compared to Noises Off a lot obviously because of subject matter, but for me they offer something completely different," Marlowe says.

"Noises Off is so full of nuance and character and detail and this show isn't about that. It's big and brash and completely absurd. Where Noises Off is a timeless farce this is just such a riot."

The Play That Goes Wrong plays QPAC's Concert Hall from tomorrow to May 14. For more information and tickets go to the QPAC website.
 


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