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THEATRE REVIEW: The Play That Goes Wrong

Belgrade, Coventry, until January 28.

It's the strangest feeling sitting amid an audience of 850 people and feeling like you're the only one not laughing.

And make no mistake, all around me on opening night, they weren't just chuckling politely. Within the first minute of the curtain going up on this resuscitated Whitehall-style farce it seemed the whole theatre was in hysterics.

Personally I don't much care for farce. Or Harold Pinter, if you think I'm being highbrow.

And it's true in The Play That Goes Wrong, I was regularly swept along by the sheer exuberance swirling all around me as scenery crashed, lines were mixed up, characters knocked out cold and even corpses having to make their own arrangements for getting off stage.

It's clever stuff and needs brilliant timing.

But it's also tedious at times with the jokes about lost props and sticking doors flagged up miles in advance.

I did enjoy the scenes with Sandra Wilkinson (Florence) and Meg Mortell (another Florence but don't ask) as they tussled over who said what. Nor is there any denying that Robert Grove (Thomas) and Chris Bean (Inspector Carter) risked broken legs as they struggled to stay upright on an ever-tilting balcony.

Trouble is as soon as you see that balcony you just know somebody is going to fall off it.

And while the pregnant pauses have the rest of the game-for-a-laugh audience in stitches, I just want to stand up and shout "Get on with it!"

Not that anyone would have cared. Everyone else was having far too good a time.

This is a national touring production by Mischief Theatre whose players adopt the guise of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society for a spoof home-made production of Murder At Haversham Manor.

By the way it went down on Monday, you make have to commit murder to get a ticket.

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