The Play That Goes Wrong on Broadway

“Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater critic by night- bringing my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.

Crazy, funny, silly, slapstick- and dangerous. ‘The Play that Goes Wrong’ is all of these and more.

Imagine a show where all the actors are terrible. They forget their lines, miss their cues, mispronounce words and spend the entire performance trying to cover for the fact that the entire set doesn’t work properly. Actually, that is a huge understatement. The entire set fails- hysterically- as everything either falls off or falls apart.

This is the kind of show that makes you laugh and laugh and laugh- even though you may kick yourself for what you are laughing at.

The 8 actors, who work in constant peril of severe physical danger from that collapsing set, each put their whole body on the line for the show eight times a week- an amazing feat.

What is more amazing is that none of them actually get injured.

My friend described this as Monty Python meets The Producers- a pretty good description. And one of the actors, Henry Shields, even looks like John Cleese used to look back in his Monty Python days.

I’d call it the “Murphy’s Law Play”- where anything that can go wrong, will- and does.

If you are a fan of slapstick humor then this is the show for you. Refined over several productions in England, including an award-winning run on London’s West End, ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ gets a lot right- and the numerous awards it won in the U.K. prove it. It even spawned a sequel, ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong,’ now running in London.

 photo: Variety

Written by 3 of the cast members, this is such a true ensemble piece that the entire U.K. cast was brought over to appear for this Broadway run. One of the show’s producers told me this original cast will not be in it much longer as a new cast is getting ready to take over soon.

Frenetically paced by director Mark Bell, the action centers around the show-within-a-show concept.

It’s a whodunnit murder mystery where everyone is a suspect and all the characters either get injured or killed (or nearly injured or killed)- several times during the evening- either by the other characters or the constantly collapsing set.

As you might expect, a show like this throws the kitchen sink at you.

Ultimately, resistance is futile. You will laugh- and frequently.

Even before the show officially started two of the actors came up to us (in character) and asked if we had seen a canine cast member who had gotten loose.

The missing dog provides one of many running gags throughout the show. Another is the butler who mispronounces every word with more than two syllables- even though he has these words written all over his hand and sneaks furtive looks at them constantly.

Though it goes over the top- and then further over the top- ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ gets laughter right- and that is a good thing these days. So I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Catch my reviews right here this time each week and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com, where you will find all my WICC 600 reviews.

This is Ed Katz talking theater for WICC 600!”