Entertainment » Theatre

The Play That Goes Wrong

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jul 15, 2019
A scene from "The Play That Goes Wrong" that runs through August 11 at the Ahmason Theatre in Los Angeles
A scene from "The Play That Goes Wrong" that runs through August 11 at the Ahmason Theatre in Los Angeles  

So hilarious your stomach will hurt from laughing, the Broadway hit "The Play That Goes Wrong" is a riotous infection that will tickle your funny bone and have you roaring with laughter for two straight hours. Sort of a "Noises Off" for a new generation, the story posits that the fictional "Cornley Univerity Drama Society" is performing a production of a play called "The Murder at Haversham Manor," which is sort of like "Clue" on stage. Directed by and starring Chris Bean (Evan Alexander Smith), Chris admits their productions usually have limited cast (they've done the musical "Cat!" and "The Lion... and the Wardrobe") and limited budget ("James and the Peach"). When the production begins, the stage looks professional and the casting game. But it soon becomes apparent that the set is shoddily put together, the backstage crew can't seem to not find its way on stage, and the acting is suspect.

And it's uproarious.

It's been a long time since I've seen something that is so consistently funny I couldn't stop chuckling or laughing out loud. While slapstick can sometimes be pedestrian and eye-rolling, the choreography and direction of it here is perfection. There's so much that is clever and surprising you really don't know what will happen second by second. And what a joy that is for theatergoers.

The entire cast is perfect with the standouts being Smith, whose frustrated rant to the audience mid-way through deserved a standing ovation. Ned Noyes as the actor who is overly pleased with himself and breaks character to acknowledge that whenever when he gets applause or nails a moment is super funny, and Peyton Crim as the lead actor, who tries his best to maintain some dignity, nails the "straight man" role. But literally, everyone is terrific so it's hard to really choose a favorite.

The set design by Nigel Hook is key here as there is so much that has to work and "not work" in such a precise way it's almost surprising that what shouldn't work actually worked as planned. (Did that make sense?) Timing is everything and the combination of design, stagehand expertise, and the actors' dexterity makes it all tick like clockwork.

This is a play for everyone. Even the younger set in the audience was guffawing and giggling throughout. This is a terrific night at the theatre and will have you walking out on a silly high.

"The Play That Goes Wrong" runs through August 11th at The Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles. For more information and for tickets, visit Ahmansontheatre.org.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


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