REVIEW | The Play that Goes Wrong, Mayflower Theatre Southampton

Last night I went along to see what turned out to be the worst play I have ever seen.

From a collapsing set, to terrible acting, the whole thing was riddled with problems and mishaps and the whole thing went terribly wrong.

…and…well…it was fantastic!

I’d heard brilliant things about The Play that Goes Wrong and as soon as I knew it was making its way to Southampton, I made sure I was in the audience. This was an Olivier-winning hit, and I was keen that I didn’t miss it. I am a sucker for comedy, and with the reviews I’d seen, I couldn’t resist seeing this play.

The Play that Goes Wrong is co-written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, from the Mischief Theatre Company, which began life as an improv group – my favourite kind of comedy!

It’s been a smash hit, and since it’s very humble beginnings as a four-man show, has won many awards and has been in the West End for two years already. You may have seen the team’s Peter Pan Goes Wrong over Christmas, too.

Upon arrival at the Mayflower Theatre, I grabbed a white wine, sat myself down in the Dress Circle and was introduced to the motley Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, who would be performing a classic 1920’s murder mystery. And then, right from the very start, as was expected….everything started to go very, very wrong.

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The whole thing had myself and my friends laughing from start to finish; it’s rare that you get to sit in a theatre and the whole place be filled with roaring laughter, but that’s exactly what I experienced.

Members of the audience were shrieking with mirth the whole time – which ended up making it even funnier! Sometimes we found ourselves laughing at people laughing, rather than what was going on on the stage! It was wonderful to hear so many people having fun.

I won’t spoil anything for you, but I will just say, prepare for the unexpected. You’ll encounter mishaps and mayhem, and you will leave feeling exhausted! This is good old-fashioned slapstick comedy, and I can’t help but mentally compare it to the classics such as Laurel & Hardy, Blackadder and comic greats like The Two Ronnies and Morecambe & Wise.

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You rarely see such brilliant physical comedy as this nowadays, and it’s incredibly effective because of its simplicity. Everyone can enjoy it; we all find people slipping on a banana skin funny. It’s one of the oldest forms of comedy we have!

This play is a visual feast of disaster with some spectacular acting from the whole team. The cast have some serious energy and stamina, both on stage and behind the scenes!

As for the murder mystery, I’m still not exactly sure ‘whodunnit’ – but I don’t really care! My friends and I left the theatre still wiping tears from our eyes; I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a brilliantly appalling play in all my life.

Make sure you catch The Play that Goes Wrong this year. It’s the best worst thing I’ve ever seen.


The Play That Goes Wrong is on at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre until Saturday 15 July, before heading off on the rest of its UK tour. Check out details on the website.

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