Jason Allen 27/05/22

The Play That Goes Wrong

Few things in the history of theatre have gone right-er than this play.

That’s not to say that the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, the am-dram theatre company  attempting to stage production of ‘A Murder At Haversham Manner’, manage to do so without a hitch – quiiiite the reverse, in fact. But it is to say that Mischief Theatre’s seminal farce – developed in Edinburgh, nurtured in London, and now rightfully enjoying a possibly-everlasting run in the Duchess Theatre – hits heights of joyful silliness you’re unlikely to find replicated on any other stage in London. Simply put, if you somehow haven’t seen it yet you really, really should.

The Play That Goes Wrong

The stage is set – or rather it isn’t, properly – from the moment you enter; klutziness and unprofessionalism abounds from the aspiring Cornley tech crew and stage management team, before the show has even begun. By the time that it does, following a halting, badly-lit monologue from the ‘company’ director, the audience is rapt.

Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields’ script is a masterclass in stupidity, with ‘A Murder At Haversham Manner’ quickly devolving into incomprehensibility as its plot (if, indeed, there ever was one) is deftly butchered by Cornley’s crew of incompetents.  

Play That Goes Wrong best theatre London now

The set is superb, too, with the crumbling scenery and staging – across two floors – leads to some truly audacious physical comedy sequences.

It’s a rollicking, riotous smorgasbord of slapstick and wordplay, of malapropisms and malfunctioning scenery, and it’s delivered with the combination of buoyant panache and military precision timing that a farce requires. 

Does the show raise profound points about contemporary culture and the collapsing state of the world in the 21st century? Absolutely, categorically, no! Is it sheer, unabashed fun? Yes, yes it is. Book now, honestly.

You really can’t go wrong. 


NOTE: The Play That Goes Wrong plays at the Duchess Theatre until 5th May 2025 (and possibly forever). You can find out more, and get tickets right here.

The Duchess Theatre | 3-5 Catherine St, WC2B 5LA

Want to see what else is on in the West End? Check out our guide to the critics’ top London theatre shows playing now

The Play That Goes Wrong

The Duchess Theatre , Covent Garden, WC2B 5LA