A British Comedy theater company brings us a hilarious concept that somehow doesn’t get old.
Welcome to Play of the Week, a program in which the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempts to put on an original play every week and broadcast it live to the whole of the UK. The troupe is led by director Chris Dean (Henry Shields), and includes the “great” actors Robert Groves (Henry Lewis), Dennis Tyde (Jonathan Sayer), Max Bennett (Dave Hearn), Sandra Wilkinson (Charlie Russell), Vanessa Wilcock-Wynn-Carroway (Bryony Corrigan), Annie Twilloil (Nancy Zamit), Trevor Watson (Chris Leask), Jonathan Harris (Greg Tannahill), and a studio audience who is apparently having a great time. Unfortunately, it seems that the members are never quite able to get all of their ducks in a row. The actors forget lines, the stages are improperly built, and, occasionally, someone gets arrested for petty crimes.
Back in 2015, when the world was so very different, the “Mischief Theater” debuted “The Play That Goes Wrong,” in which a troupe attempts to debut a The Mousetrap-style mystery play that, as you would guess from the title, goes completely off-the-rails. It was apparently a hit, because the people behind it were given this show in which they have to do exactly the same thing, over and over again, without it getting stale. Sure, you may think that doesn’t sound that difficult, but how many ways do you really think a play can “go wrong?” Saying the wrong lines or missing cues can only be surprising so many times. Unbelievably, this show manages to keep coming up with refreshing, original, and genuinely hilarious every episode. Granted, there are only 6 episodes at present, but even that is damned impressive.
Part of the reason the show works is that the cast are phenomenal. It takes a lot of talent to act, believably, like someone with no talent, and most of the cast have to not only do that, but to do that in different ways every time. Additionally, the physical stunts on this show sometimes border on the insane. Characters will fall off of the second story regularly, a thing that looks much more impressive when you see the insane buildup. They also will routinely get knocked around by other cast members (on purpose or on accident), get shoved through walls, and get catapulted across the stage. The fact that they’re recording this in front of a studio audience makes it even more impressive.
Another solid trait is that each episode has some sort of “prompt,” which has nothing to do with the theme of the play. For example, they need to stretch for time so they are adding words to the script. Each of these prompts means that there’s already something that is “off” about the play, which makes it even more intense when the actors not only have other things go wrong, but also still have to keep the prompt going.
Overall, it’s a great show and I really recommend checking it out. One of the funniest shows I’ve watched in a while.
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