Monday, 24 March 2014

Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 29 March 2014

OK Let's go straight for the jugular. This is probably one of the most innovative and funny plays that I've seen. Think Morecambe and Wise, John Cleese, Monty Python, The Young Ones, Bottom, Acorn Antiques and the old silent movies kind of slapstick and this will give you an idea of what to expect.

It's a play within a play and the  theatrical company in the play, Cornley Polytechnic Society are putting on one of their infamous plays entitled, "The Murder At Haversham Manor",and while they are supposed to be an amateur dramatics society, I've never seen any amateur dramatic company like this in real life, and that's where the comedy lies.

Doors that won't open, missed cues, dodgy sound effects, props that don't work, over acting and scenery faux pas are all in full effect here and escalate through the play to great comedy affect.

There are no "star" names here but all the actors are excellent, and just like Les Dawson's piano skills, many people don't realise that to play as awful as Les did, he actually had to be an accomplished pianist to create the comedy, and that's the same here. You have to be very very good to act as if you're the opposite!

The characters are wonderful; an Inspector of police who doubled in the play as the director; "Perkins" the put upon butler who had been in service for, was that 80 or 8 years, complete with talcum powder hair whitening and a penchant for reading certain words from his own personal cue cards.

The "murdered" Charles Haversham who made two or three appearances before the big reveal; Thomas Colleymore, brother of the murdered man's fiancee, Florence Colleymore, the closest thing you'll get to a female Rik Mayall in mannerisms and over the topness.

Cecil Haversham, brother of the sometimes deceased Charles, and the love interest (on the side of course) of Florence. Cecil also gets bumped off but looks an awful lot like the gardener who makes an appearance later on!

And then there are stand in's for characters who become indisposed , shall we say, by the Stage Manager, who gets a taste for all of this luvvie am dram stuff who doesn't want to give up her newly found penchant for audience adoration without, quite literally, a fight. And the lighting and sound operator who doubles for Florence and ends up bloodied, battered and snogged by Cecil!

So many hilarious moments which include the props, as well as the actions of the characters. It's the only play where at the end, the whole set needs rebuilding it's that physical.

The cast of Mischief Theatre, they're the theatre group who are the touring group presenting "The Play That Goes Wrong", are close to genius and I must applaud the timing of all the actors as well as the physical aspects of the comedy. Oh and make sure you buy a programme because in the interval you can spend the time reading up on the real actors of Mischeif with the thetare CV's of the actors of Cornley Polytechnic and about the characters they play in the play within this play!

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