Everything goes right at ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ shown at Garvin

The Channels Arts Pages | CRITICAL REVIEW

Courtesy+of+The+Theatre+Group+at+SBCC.

Ben Crop

Courtesy of The Theatre Group at SBCC.

Claire Geriak, Staff Writer

A crowd trickled into Garvin Theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. to watch “The Play That Goes Wrong” presented by the Theatre Group at City College. 

Courtesy of The Theatre Group at SBCC.
Courtesy of The Theatre Group at SBCC. (Ben Crop)

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields, the play presents the fictional Cornley University Drama Society’s “The Murder at Havershamn Manor.”

The performance was already beginning within my first step in the theater. 

While the audience was slowly filtering into the auditorium, a man approached me in a 1920s-style suit, smiling. He thanked me for coming out to see “The Murder at Haversham Manor” and continued walking through the crowd and talking to the audience. I couldn’t tell if he was a member of the cast, or just a really well-dressed gentleman. 

It was hard for me to keep track of who was an actor and an audience member. I didn’t want to look away in fear of missing a fun anecdote.

There was a moment when a woman in the audience was approached by a cast member to help with some maintenance on the stage. After a few minutes of sweeping and construction, she was escorted back to her seat.

Courtesy of The Theatre Group at SBCC.
Courtesy of The Theatre Group at SBCC. (Ben Crop)

Once the play commenced, I was caught off guard by many things that went wrong within the first minute. There was an actor tripping, props not working, and wrong sound effects being projected into the crowd. After a while, the laughter began to pick up as the crowd began to catch on to these planned mistakes. 

The cast often broke the fourth wall by looking out to the audience for a cry for help, or approaching an audience member. 

One of the most unique parts of this performance was Isaac Lewis’ role as Trevor, the angsty sound and lighting technician that was visible on the corner of the stage. Just as you are getting lost in the story of the Havershamn family, Trevor’s mechanical errors jolt you back into multiple layers of storytelling that was presented.

Not only was I intrigued by the actors’ mistakes, but I was also invested with the murder mystery aspect of the play as well. I often forgot that I was watching a play about another play.

Courtesy of The Theatre Group at SBCC.
Courtesy of The Theatre Group at SBCC. (Ben Crop)

Just as the performance came to a close, it was a never ending wave of chaos. As this disarray persisted, it became slightly overwhelming. There were moments where it became difficult to focus on just one event, and I felt that I was missing some of the other anecdotes that were happening simultaneously.

Props of the set that I didn’t know could break, broke and the ground was literally falling beneath the actors. These invoked loud gasps, followed by relieved laughter out of the audience. 

The joy and humor from the audience reflected onto the actors as they took their final bows. 

“The Play That Goes Wrong” will be shown at the Garvin Theatre until Saturday, Oct. 29. 

Tickets can be purchased on the Theatre Groups’ website or at the box office at the Garvin Theatre.