The Play That Goes Wrong

  • Theatre
  • West End
0 Love It
Federica Frezza and Alisha Hahmed

If I didn’t know better, I’d guess that Mischief Theatre couldn’t get the rights to Michael Frayn’s peerless backstage farce ‘Noises Off’, given that the Old Vic’s superb production is still touring after last year’s West End run. Undeterred, Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields have penned a theatrical calamity of their own – and it’s like a first draft Frayn might have scrawled on a napkin.

Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s performance of ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor’, a sub-Agatha Christie country-house whodunit, is doomed from the off. The stage manager is caught onstage as the house lights fade and there follows a miscellany of missed cues, muddled props and wincing corpses.

What’s really lacking here is patience and credibility. Rather than gradually unravelling, allowing running gags to build and collide, the CPDS’s amateur show just implodes from the off with the fictional performers too basely imbecilic to attempt a rescue.

In fairness, ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ is a pretty decent stab at this sort of thing, with moments of ruddy brilliance. It just has the misfortune to go up against what is indisputably the greatest theatrical farce ever written.

Matt Trueman

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:8
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening
Katie D

After seeing Peter Pan goes wrong earlier in the year I was keen to see the original and unfortunately I was quite disappointed. Compared to the belly laughs of Peter Pan the play that goes wrong failed to do the same. I don't know if it was because the jokes and characters were fairly similar and so it didn't seem new to me. However, I highly recommend Peter Pan goes wrong!

Dave B

My wife and I laughed from start to finish.

The mixed audience form school kids to pensioners enjoyed the play throughout and were just as enthralled and engaged with the action as we were.

The cast were superb having the technical ability to effortlessly pretend to lack acting skills and timing (a la Les Dawson piano playing). And the set brings the house down!

We will be recommending the play, to friends neighbours, people in the street. Go and see it now.


This play was fantastic and I have recommended it to everyone. The theatre (Trafalgar Studios) was perfect as it is an intimate space which allows the actors to feed off the audience reactions....we had a front row member of the audience with an hysterical laugh which the actors reacted to during the performance and this made it even funnier. One hour was the perfect length and to be honest I couldn't have laughed for any longer! More amazing was a man opposite us who didn't even smile once and another with his entire shopping in carrier bags who left after twenty minutes..........bizarre or what????


I thought I was going to die when I saw this last month - I couldn't breath I was laughing so much. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen in London ( on stage ) .By the end I was actually in pain with laughing. Ignore the Time Out review - go see and enjoy if it's still on ( it's also very cheap)

Carolyn Hunt

I was struggling to find something to entertain a 21 year old lad when I discovered this excellent comedy. The whole audience was struggling to stay on their chairs as we laughed so much. Fabulous evening!


I saw this play yesterday and it was should tour because it would be a roaring success..I haven't laughed so much since I saw Lee Evans live.Tears ran down my cheeks and I'm so glad that I had an empty bladder.Well done to all the cast as it was an absolute triumph.


I absolutely disagree with this article. I saw this play a few days ago, and having seen Noises Off performed several times by different companies, thought the play that goes wrong surpassed the lot with ease. The problem that I see with Noises Off is that it is far too slow - one act where you meet the actors playing the characters and their problems, another where you see it all fall down backstage and a third where you see it all again from the front. The third act of noises off is arguably the best, and what the play that goes wrong does is to take this third act and fill a whole hour with it. By shortening the introductions to the actors to one monologue at the beginning, the show has effectively cut the crap (the play-within-a-play runs through three times in noises off in order to develop the characters of the actors and who loves/hates who, compared to only an intense once in this) and got down to the laughs without feeling the need to be too intricate with backstage love triangles, and prove that a play can be just as funny without them. By being quick and simple this play is an absolute triumph.


I just saw this farce yesterday, and it was by far the best one I had ever seen! Genuine laughs throughout. The cast are awesome. See it while you can.