the play going wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong

Coventry Belgrade


‘Murphy was an optimist’ goes the adage. If a thing can go wrong, it will and, even if it can’t, it still will. The Play the Goes Wrong is now a national institution and a wonderful and welcome one at that. The audience cried with laughter, guffawed and sat in stunned silence by turns at the skill, the timing and the fun of the piece.

The Cornley Polytechnic Dramatic Society’s most recent offering, ‘Murder at Haversham Court‘, as introduced by director Chris Bean, played by Tom Bulpett, in a wonderfully pretentious speech following on from a variety of previous dramas including Chekhov’s TWO sisters, Snow White and the Four Dwarves among others for want of talented actors.

The plot is wafer thin and revolves round the untimely death, murder, of two brothers, Charles played by Cronley's fictional actor Jonathan Harris who was played by the real actor Gabriel Paul, and Cecil Haversham played by Cornley's Max Bennet, who also plays the gardener, and all played by the less fictional Tom Babbage. Keeping up all right?

In a barely noticeable snow storm the local police inspector arrives (Tom Bulpett again) to interview the fiancée Florence Colleymore played by fictional Sandra Wilkinson and the real April Hughes, her brother Thomas, played by Robert Grove, or Leonard Cook as its says on the contract, and Perkins the butler from Dennis Tyde who is really Edward Howells.

The set and the play is held together, literally at times, by the amazing stagehand (Laura Kirman) who has to step in when Florence is knocked out cold by the wayward set door. Add Seán Carey as Duran Duran obsessed Stage Manager and prompt and an invisible dog.

Suspicion falls on each in turn and the scenery itself seems determined to polish off a few more characters until the final scene of mayhem has a Buster Keaton-like denoument that has each of the characters standing within the windows and doors of the set. Frankly, I would have finished it here because we missed the next section for laughing!

In case you haven’t guessed, the play was hugely enjoyable. I loved in particular that Perkins the butler had difficult words written on his hand but couldn’t pronounce them properly. I also loved (because I have heard it done for real!) the prompt supplying ‘learn your bloody lines!’ repeated by Robert. This is knockabout humour that’s just plain knock-out.

Look out for Mischief Theatre’s next programmes: Groan-ups and Magic Goes Wrong – I can’t wait.

Jane Howard


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