Old Red Lion Theatre and Mischief Theatre present new comic writing from
the producer of Mercury Fur finds the inept Cornley Polytechnic Drama
Society staging a 1920’s murder mystery
Forgotten lines, inept actors and a set with its screws loose form the
heart of this fast-paced, celebrated new comedy, which transfers to the
West End direct from an acclaimed run at the Old Red Lion Theatre
earlier this year.
Focusing on the many trials and tribulations of the Cornley Polytechnic
Drama Society, the play tells the story of the company’s staging of
1920’s murder mystery Murder at Haversham Manor. Chris the arrogant head
of the drama society has directed the piece and cast himself as the
dynamic Inspector, while desperate wannabe actress Sandra and the
genuinely doting Max struggle opposite each other as the romantic
interests and actor Dennis still can’t pronounce “façade”. An hour of
delicately timed disaster ensues; actors get knocked out, the play gets
stuck on a loop and the set starts to disintegrate.
The production’s third run on the West End Stage signals underlines the
latest in a series of transfers from the Old Red Lion, which develops
bold, dynamic and innovative theatre, providing a space where work is
created and seen first.
"How To: Get Out Of Awkward Situations" a guide by "The Play That
Goes Wrong," in association with TKTS:
CAUSING FURTHER CHAOS NATIONWIDE, THE SHOW ANNOUNCES A
2018 UK TOUR
The touring cast presents: Jake Curran (Chris), Catherine Dryden
(Annie), Bobby Hirston (Max), Benjamin McMahon (Dennis), Gabriel Paul
(Trevor), Steven Rostance (Jonathan), Kazeem Tosin Amore (Robert), Elena
Valentine (Sandra) with David Kristopher-Brown (Understudy), Laura White
(Understudy), Liam Horrigan (Understudy) and Louisa Sexton (Understudy).
Back on the road following the phenomenal sell-out success of this
year’s tour, the 2018 UK tour will opened at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate
in January 2018, visiting 34 venues nationwide until
“Why would all these regional theatres want a return visit of our little
murder mystery show when last year’s tour went so badly wrong. I am at a
loss to understand it." Producer, Kenny Wax
(Seen at the afternoon performance on 26th July 2015) Some actors have now
left the cast.
It took the monkey over a year to get around to this - and it is pleased it did
- managing to catch much of the original cast before they disperse to other
That the play is the product of graduating drama students "doing it for
themselves" and ending up, through numerous versions and presentations, with a
full-length show backed by a major producer is an achievement. It also means
that their frame-of-reference for its creation matches directly the situation
they attempt to create. Students writing about a 'student dramatic society'
means that emotionally, the whole thing feels genuine even as every artificially
created comedic idea unfolds.
And that is the true strength of the show. Fans of 1970s sitcoms will
recognise every element of slapstick, every scrape and "Fawlty" moment - and
still, because the show is so truthful, laugh like drains. Better, every
performance is slightly different (a third-time visitor informed the monkey that
one particularly wonderful "pantomime" moment has never happened before), and if
the show has been running a year, it still feels as fresh as the first night it
Some wonderful performances from Adam Byron as Trevor the indolent Lighting
and Sound Man, Rob Falconer as a cheery Max Bennett, Henry Shields as Chris Bean
- effortlessly improvising from audience reaction; plus rubber-faced,
exquisitely expressive Nancy Wallinger as Annie Twilloil are the highlights of a
cast who work tirelessly to ensure nothing goes right.
Yes, the play itself could do with a little more structure towards the end,
and just occasionally a little time to allow the audience to rest before the
next joke (and also, perhaps, the odd deletion of repeating a fairly flat joke
twice). For the most part, though, it zips along, laughs piling up and honouring
the finest traditions of "Noises Off" and "No Sex Please, We're British" to name
It's not going to please everybody. Those seeing sophisticated word-play
should look elsewhere; but after a hard day at work it requires little effort to
love this manic group of young hopefuls, and should delight the Great British
crowd. The monkey for sure will be back to see it again some time, and only
wishes it had caught the show sooner.