Review: The Play That Goes Wrong at The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

If you needed a shove to get you back to supporting live theatre then The Play That Goes Wrong by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer & Henry Shields currently on tour at The Everyman is a breath of fresh air.

It was the first non-socially distant performance of a show at the Cheltenham theatre and the sense of relief as over 400 theatre-goers filled the auditorium and gave a sense of togetherness which has been lacking during the pandemic. It felt good to be among live theatre fans watching a thoroughly professional performance in a beautiful theatre. Mask wearing was optional and many attendees chose to watch the show behind a mask – there really wasn’t any pressure to do so but for those people who felt safer masked up it wasn’t an issue.

Mark Goucher, chief executive of the Everyman Theatre said: “The opening night of The Play That Goes Wrong was also our first night without social distancing. It was a huge success and wonderful for the theatre to feel ‘normal’ again in so many ways and quite an emotional experience. There was a real buzz among the audience and 99% of people were wearing masks which was very positive.

“Hopefully we can build on this and look forward to a fabulous Summer of shows and an exciting Autumn season.  We are so grateful to everyone for their continued support and patience.”

The play is essentially a play within a play – a 1920s murder mystery set in Haversham Manor where Charles Haversham has been murdered. It is played by the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society. From the opening of the show a soundman – Trevor played excellently by Gabriel Paul is strategically placed in a box in the audience and starts a rapport with theatre-goers as he struggles to perform his duties for the cast. You are drawn into the farcical production from the get go as everyone is asked to look for an errant dog which has gone missing from the cast.

The quick fire wit and hilarious malapropisms which pepper the dialogue create some hilarious moments and some over the top – often silly – action. The whole production goes wrong with physical humour a plenty and a set which has been constructed to destruct slowly throughout the performance during two neat acts.

If you have been missing comedic theatre The Play That Goes Wrong delivers and has toured around the world to great acclaim. The Mischief Comedy team have this show down to a tee and the staging is incredible – how the cast mange to keep it all in one piece is admirable.

The Play That Goes Wrong is on at the Everyman until August 1. Call the box office to book tickets: 01242 572 573