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The Play That Goes Wrong Theatre Royal Bath Review

In these testing times there could be nothing more welcome that an evening of unreserved hysterical laughter, the sort of thing that makes you cling onto the edge of your seat rocked by gales of giggles and roars of laughter.  Look no further The Play that Goes Wrong is back in town, and against all odds, bringing its unique brand of farce cleverly contained in a play within a play: on the face of it, slapstick comedy but disguising a mastery of the best kind of comedy. The acclaimed Mischief Theatre’s creation goes from strength to strength brightening our lives both on TV and best of all in live theatre. 

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are determined to bring us their production of ‘Murder at Haversham Manor’.  Its dog-eared members, and there is a dog albeit unseen due to its being lost before curtain up, have a distinctly Dunkirk spirit attitude to acting which is just as well.  Every disaster that can befalls them, collapsing scenery, missing props, unexpected entrances (and exits) injured actors and lost lines.  They blunder on regardless to the unrestrained mirth of the audience.

The play has all the makings of a good murder/mystery, a dead body (at times), a testy police inspector, two hooray henry brothers, the creepy butler, and an over excitable amorous sister.  And an invisible dog.  The expertise of the real actors who play these roles is evident as they are the doyens of fast paced timing for the stunts whilst remaining believable as their shambling counterparts.

The entire cast are truly excellent: Tom Bulpett as Inspector Carter and the director not in control to the last, Elan James, the most lively dead body we’ve ever seen, David Kirkbride striding the stage like a colossus in tweedy plus fours as Thomas, expert in managing sliding scenery.  Milo Clarke, as Cecil his brother, showed tip-top co-ordination, Michael Keane as Perkins the word-blind butler and Ellie Morris is fabulous as the hysterical and sex-obsessed sister Florence with her neat disappearing act through the window.  Ciara Morris as the stage manager Annie bundled on at the last minute, tattered script in hand to do battle with her lines makes a great double act with Ellie Morris when they collide acting the same part, and they rather stole the show at that point.  

We salute you, members of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society for giving us one of the best evenings of our lives!  Our ribs ached as much as those of the cast after they’d fallen from great heights, crashed through windows, been sliced by swords and had a small altercation with a large piece of scenery.  If you can get a ticket – see this, you will forget all the trials and tribulations of the last nine months and be still smiling days afterwards.

Jacquie Vowles

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