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A comedy of errors has audience in stitches but it's not my cup of tea


The Play That Goes Wrong, Belgrade Theatre, September 13-18.

By Barbara Goulden There's obviously a cult following for this zany farce that was first performed back in 2012 and went on to secure a Best New Comedy prize at the Laurence Olivier Awards of 2015. For all that I only started to see the funny side after a glass of wine in the second act. But then, that's me. Not a great admirer of slapstick humour in the mould of Fawlty Towers and perhaps a bit too Tom Stoppard-inclined to fully appreciate the hilarity engendered by the physical ingenuity of the obviously hugely talented members of Mischief Theatre. If you enjoy a good panto then you'll probably love the timing of this deliberately daft plot as props go missing, whole sets - rather than trousers - fall down, and half the actors don't know their lines. Then there's the corpse who winces as he's frequently trodden on and ends up having to inch his way off stage because the stretcher he's meant to be carried on splits in half. And you can't blame the victim's poor fiancee Florence for getting hysterical. She's dragged out of a window like a rag doll then knocked out cold leaving the dumbfounded cast with no option but to send on an understudy - and she doesn't know her lines either. This is a return visit by Mischief Theatre to the Belgrade. And, of course, they're all fit-as-flea professionals playing the part of a fumbling amateur dramatic group trying to stage a whodunnit entitled Murder At Haversham Manor. Needless to say everybody is a suspect. Or a nutcase. Or both. And that includes the Duran Duran-loving prompt man who suspects the audience of pinching his CD box set. All the pauses are pregnant and no doubt necessary for the actors to get their breaths back before the next set of calamities befall them. You can see it all coming...until you can't see it at all for laughing. But unlike most of the hugely appreciative audience, that was only towards the end. And a glass of wine certainly helped.

Picture by Robin Day.