If anything went wrong at last night’s opening for The Play That Goes Wrong in Dallas, it was impossible to tell. Opening night for this award-winning comedy ended with a cheering crowd and a standing ovation at the Winspear Opera House in the downtown Dallas Arts District.
According to Murphy’s Law, “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.” And while there’s nothing funny about Murphy’s Law when you are on the receiving end, when it strikes others? Well, that’s another story! After all, without Murphy’s Law, shows like “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and humor sites like Cake Wrecks would be out of material.
By riffing on Murphy’s Law, writing duo, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, had no shortage of material for The Play That Goes Wrong. This hectic stage play is filled to the brim with excruciatingly funny mishaps, earning it both the 2015 Olivier Award as well as the WhatsOnStage Award for Best New Comedy.
Best Playbill ever…
It’s worth arriving early to The Play That Goes Wrong so you’ll have time to enjoy the Playbill, which contains a full cast list for a fictitious Agatha Christie style play entitled “The Murder at Haversham Manor.” This is the ill-fated play-within-a-play upon which the story unfolds, or rather unravels. The Playbill also includes a phony letter from a British university president followed by mock-bios for the student actors.
My favorite part of the Playbill is the pompous advertisement for “Robert Grove’s School for Acting Perfectly,” which links to a parody Twitter account: @RobertGoodActor. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek and perfectly sets the tone for an evening of silliness.
Also, without giving anything away, I should add that since this is a play-with-a-play, audience members should keep an eye out for action that occurs before the official curtain.
The Plot for The Play That Goes Wrong
AlthoughThe Play That Goes Wrong contains a murder mystery at its core, you really won’t care “who dunnit” by the end of the show. The humor is nonstop slapstick that gets progressively more ridiculous as the best intentions of this pompous stage production falls apart literally and figuratively.
The first characters we encounter are the stagehands, Trevor and Annie, who struggle with last-minute repairs to the set. For opening night in Dallas, Trevor was played by Michael Thatcher (@thatched44) an apathetic sound man who continually misses his cues. Angela Grovey (@angelagrovey) plays Annie, an introverted helper who finds herself unwittingly drawn into the action as everything around her goes downhill.
At some time or another, we can all relate to the hapless Chris Bean, played by Evan Alexander Smith (@iamevansmith.) This character’s ambition and efforts to control the ever-deteriorating situation parody the inner-perfectionist in everyone. Smith’s lanky frame and aptitude for physical comedy reminds me of John Cleese in Fawlty Towers.
Much of the humor in The Play That Goes Wrong comes from the actors acting like bad actors, and as the simpering butler, Perkins, Scott Cote perfectly pulls this off. Another example is Ned Noyes, who as Max, often had me laughing for no other reason than his goofy grin and zany moves.
What’s a murder mystery without a corpse? While you might think this would be a role without much substance, Yaegel T. Welch (@yaegelwelch) utilizes physical humor and stricken facial expressions to garner laughs.
Peyton Crim (@TheRealPeytonC) plays his character, Robert, with a commanding gravitas reminiscent of Orson Welles. His deep-voiced delivery makes even the most simple utterances seem grand, portentous, and amusing.
After my own day where everything went wrong (including my GPS directing me down a one-way street on my way to the show), I was utterly primed for some good-natured schadenfreude, which The Play That Goes Wrong delivers! This show is the perfect gift for any performer in your life. Grab your tickets before the show leaves town.
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See The Play That Goes Wrong in Dallas:
Where: AT&T Performing Arts Center/Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201
Tickets: Check availability and book online at the AT&T Performing Art Center official website.
Runtime: Runs for roughly 2 hours with a 20-minute intermission.
NOTE: While tickets were provided for review purposes, the opinions expressed in this article are wholly my own.
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Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in North Texas travel, cemetery symbols, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!”
Snider’s best-selling books include Paranormal Texas , Understanding Cemetery Symbols, and 100 Things to Do in Dallas - Fort Worth Before You Die.