“Have you seen a dog?”
Even before taking their seats, audience members found themselves participating with frantic cast members searching for a loose dog and rescuing an already crumbling set.
The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on a production of The Murder at Haversham Manor, a recognisable spin on a typical 1920’s murder mystery. The storyline, similar to a Murder on the Orient Express or The Mousetrap is retold by archetypal characters; including the wife, the brother, the detective and the butler. In fact, the story is so familiar it allows the audience to completely ignore the plot and focus on the shenanigans happenings around them.
It’s difficult to decipher why comedies of this calibre are so rare on stage as the production follows a straightforward story and simple theme, alongside its acrobatic, dramatic and interactive cast. Nevertheless, the flawless timing, inflated characters and quality, old-school slapstick make The Play That Goes Wrong a thrill to watch. With an amazingly fragile set falling apart around the cast, I was genuinely amazed that no one was actually hurt. I also couldn’t imagine the experience would be as delightful or charming from a distance, yet its low brow humour was clearly able to carry through all tiers of the Lowry Lyric theatre.
The Play That Goes Wrong is not a show of nuance but rather a collection of trips, slips, double takes and visual gags that are relentlessly timed and easy to follow. Despite the Lowry audience ranging from children to seniors, this comedy easily translated through the ages, creating more waves of laughter than I have ever heard in a theatre. Allowing for a natural laugh track from the audience with its easy-going British humour. The show runs in the same lane as the Pink Panther and Mrs. Browns Boys, as its simplistic comedy shaping offers impeccably entertaining slapstick with an emphasis on chaos.
In a production that constantly had the audience laughing and gasping, it was difficult to see where the plot and comedy could progress in the second half. It was soon established that it wouldn't and instead, things really fell apart. With such a repetitive formula, the second act became as satisfying to watch as an episode of You've Been Framed. You are guaranteed to laugh, but you won’t necessarily remember why.
Prat fall comedy is not to everyone's taste but this light-hearted and finely overacted homage to the murder mystery classic is a collection of old-school, slapstick masterpieces that should always be in fashion.