Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG (Broadway Playhouse)

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by Stephen Best on January 27, 2022

in Theater-Chicago,Tours

THIS WRONG IS OH SO RIGHT

Broadway in Chicago’s gamble is absolutely the right play at the right time. Staged in the intimate setting of the Broadway Playhouse Theatre, this Broadway and London romp is most welcome in a time that has audiences hungering for a sincere, hearty laugh. Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, The Play That Goes Wrong is a classic murder mystery peppered with slapstick, madcap missteps and mindless mayhem. Totally unique to this particular production, this frothy comedic caper features an entirely Chicago-based company performing a contemporary Broadway hit. (It is considered, however, part of a national tour.)

Directors Mark Bell and Matt DiCarlo keep the pace quick in a show that is best described as a delightful escape from the nightly news and the Squid Games horror show of daily reality. It’s silly, harmless camp with sight gags and physical comedy — think an updated Noises Off meets The Carol Burnett Show, with a dash of The Three Stooges and a pinch of I Love Lucy.

Without spoiling too much of the story, the show is about a small theatre company playing a small theater company. Very Meta, but not taking itself seriously for one iota of a second. Set against a backdrop of a 1920s-style murder mystery, the cast of the fictitious play, “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” might have tried to play it straight, but comedic disaster unfolded around every corner. Misplaced props, deliriously dropped lines, intentionally missed cues and collapsing scenic design pieces deliver uproarious results.

In the leading roles of Inspector Carter and Chris Bean — the actor playing Inspector Carter — Chicago’s own Matt Mueller brings charisma and whimsey to his characterizations. (His sisters are Broadway actresses Jessie Mueller (Beautiful) and Abby Mueller (Six the Musical.) Scene stealer Ernaisja Curry is winning as a nonplussed stage manager turned performer. Jonah D. Winston’s always welcom booming baritone adds much to his dual roles of Robert Grove & Thomas Colleymoore. Kelly O’Sullivan as Sandra continues to prove women can and should do comedy (take that, Jerry Lewis); never has an unconscious character commanded such attention. Finally, Colton Adams as the lighting and sound operator, Trevor Watson, proves an audience favorite.

For those looking for a much-needed escape, head directly to The Play That Goes Wrong. This laugh riot physical comedy will charm even the dourest of souls. The harmless silliness will make you forget mask mandates (but do wear your mask and bring your current vaccination card or current negative test results for entry to the theater) and world woes. Who couldn’t be grateful for that? Wrong is just the correct amount of much needed right!

photos by Jeremy Daniel

The Play That Goes Wrong
The Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut in Chicago
for tickets, call 800.775.2000 or visit Broadway in Chicago
ends on April 3, 2022 in Chicago EXTENDED to May 29, 2022
national tour continues — for more dates and cities, visit Wrong Tour

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

For a little backstory, Wrong began in London, England back in 2012 as an emerging original comedy. By 2015, it was impressing audiences nightly and went on to win the prestigious Best New Comedy 2015 Laurence Olivier Award. Two years later in 2017, the show crossed the pond and transferred to Broadway for a successful run that added the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Play to its trophy case. 2019’s Off-Broadway production is still playing at New World Stages. Now in the Windy City it has been extended and playing seven shows a week.

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