ArtSpoken & Reviews

It's so right that it goes wrong

Jon Broeke
04/01/2017 12:14:01

Jon Broeke: In The Play That Goes Wrong at the Pieter Toerien Theatre, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong, and it’s so funny to watch.

We all know the old adage: The show must go on. Well, the new production at the Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino, The Play That Goes Wrong, takes that sentiment to a whole new level.

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, The Play That Goes Wrong, tells the tale of the fated production of “Murder at Haversham Manor” by the Northriding Polytechnic Drama Society. Director Chris, played by Russel Savadier, has put together a marvellous play, in his opinion anyway, and cast it with the best actors he has available. From the moment the production starts what can go wrong, does go wrong, which includes doors not opening, portions of the stage falling apart, actors ending up unconscious and with some serious concussions, I’m sure, a mishap with the drinks on stage, and a stage hand with serious delusions of grandeur. It’s a tour de force of every director’s worst nightmares, but, as the adage attests to, the show does, indeed, go on, regardless of the mayhem happening around them.

This is one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen. Literally from the moment the curtain opens and Jonathan, who is playing Charles Haversham in the play, played by Theo Landey, is found lying dead on the couch in the middle of the stage, it had me in stitches, gasping for breath. Director Alan Committie knows all there is to know about comic timing, and it shows in his masterful crafting of this dry British madhouse. Comedy is incredibly hard to perform, especially on stage where you only get one take to get the joke right, but each and every one of the performers on the stage does a remarkable job of working well together, and with their props, to get the most out of each and every joke.

Every actor does a great job with their roles. Landey’s cadaver, which keeps coming back to life. Savadier’s detective, who is trying to control things as the director, but slowly losing hope that the show might turn out okay. Robert Fridjhon’s overbearing soon to be brother-in-law, who spends a large amount of the play suspended from a falling balcony. Roberto Pompo’s butler, who has his script written up and down his arms, even though he can’t read half the words. Nicole Franco’s incredibly overacting fiancé who spends most of the time unconscious. Sive Gubangxa’s stage hand, who ends up on the stage, and enjoying it a little too much. Louis Viljoen’s other stage hand, who would rather text or listen to his Duran Duran Cd then actually do his work. They all do marvellous jobs in bringing these characters to life, but the star of show, for me, is Craig Jackson. He has, for me at least, the best character in the production. That guy that really cannot act, but just loves to be up on the stage, possibly a little too much. He is seriously funny and has a lot of the best comic moments in the show, especially his dance-a-long monologues that had the audience in complete stitches. Not to mention the dog that they couldn’t find.

The stage is also wonderful, becoming as much a part of the comedy as the actors themselves. I marvelled as things fell off the wall, then stayed on, just to fall again on que. The lift that blows up, twice. The balcony that collapses, on que, in the middle of the production, with three actors on it. It all lends to the comedy lines that the actors are performing, and really tickles the funny bone.

This play might not be for everyone, but if you’re are a fan of dry British humour, ala Monty Python, or a fan of comic greats like Charlie Chaplin, then you will find this play incredibly funny. The only problem is that you might not find out who actually killed Charles Haversham, because you’ll be laughing so much you might miss it.

The Play That Goes Wrong is on at Pieter Toerien's Main Theatre, Montecasino, Fourway, until 30 April.

Jon Broeke
Freelance Journalist
Related Venue:
Montecasino Complex, Fourways Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa