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Broadway in Cincinnati’s “Play That Goes Wrong” Definitely Goes Right

Review by Spenser Smith of The Play That Goes Wrong: Broadway in Cincinnati

Photo: Jeremy Daniel

At the risk of needing no further review, I must say this is absolutely the funniest play I have ever seen. Bring tissues.

The Play That Goes Wrong is a play by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields of Mischief Theatre Company. It won Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards and Best Scenic Design of a Play at the 2017 Tony Awards.

The play, that is already going wrong, begins before curtain. Members of the crew are on stage as the audience enters the theatre finishing up some last minute setup and searching for a missing dog. You might even be asked to help. The fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society has recently had some issues with casting. Due to restraints, they’ve had to make some adjustments to a few classics. What would you do if during James and the Giant Peach your only peach goes rotten? Or if you really liked poems about kittens by T.S. Eliot set to music by Andrew Lloyd Weber but only had one actor? This year the company is staging The Murder at Haversham Manor, which has the right number of parts. During the performance, I think the better question to ask is “What goes right?” The set is falling apart, props are misplaced, actors are forgetting lines, and the stage manager (visible to the audience in a House Left box) is missing his cues. The joy of surprise is the beauty of this hilarious play, so I won’t give away any plot details.

The entire cast is a riot. Most of the actors have several moments when they directly interact with the audience and Cincinnati ate it up. The actors are up, down, under, over and all across Proctor and Gamble Hall for two hours. It must be physically exhausting for them, but man are we having fun! The set, designed by Nigel Hook, becomes an important piece of the puzzle and does not disappoint. Well, at least not from the audience perspective. The show has everything. Spit takes, pratfalls, sword fighting and when was the last time you saw a play with coordinated stunts? It is often said that “there is something got everyone!” Well, in this play, that is abundantly true. This is a group of equal opportunity offenders and they’ll get you to laugh one way or another. Or all of the above.

If you doubt the play is as funny as I have described, go see it for yourself or just ask the young girl that was sitting in front of me during the opening night performance. I think I was being too loud. Sorry, girl in G7, but it was VERY funny.

The Play That Goes Wrong continues at the Aronoff Center through December 2.
For tickets, visit the box office located at 650 Walnut Street , call 513-621-2787 [ARTS] or you can order online at cincinnatiarts.org.