Catastrophic Slapstick: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at the Duchess

Those who go to the theatre with me know that whilst I can appreciate the humour in shows that are funny, I very scarcely laugh out loud at the jokes that are pulled so I went into the Duchess Theatre expecting to not be laughing out loud. The show began exactly how I predicted it would: I wasn't laughing and I actually began to find the jokes quite tedious.

But as it went on and I started to realise that I could find my own sense of humour in the play, I began to quite enjoy myself. That isn't to say that the humour was anything overly clever or witty I hasten to add, but I did at times find this show - that seems like a lot of the same stuff being thrown at you at once - at least the smallest bit funny.

If you asked me to tell you an outline of the plot, it would be a hard question to answer. Before the curtain goes up on the show, we're introduced to the backstage crew running around the audience and across the stage frantically searching for different props and bits of set. When the show begins, we discover that this is a performance of "The Murder at Havisham Manor" - an amateur dramatics society's play that is clearly going to go wrong. From there, the story drops; we're now watching a show that has little storyline, but a lot of attempts at gags. At times, it's appealing and you can find it very funny when certain things happen in particular moments, but it does overall feel like you're being force fed a lot of over the top slapstick all for the sake of trying to make you laugh harder and harder. It's try-hard and it feels try-hard a lot of the time with most of the comedy - at times - feeling like it's being forced down your throat constantly.

Nonetheless, the cast were a fantastic fit to this show and I can imagine it's a proper challenge having to recast an ensemble show where the bonds have to be strong enough to pull off this ridiculous humour. Laura Kirman as the backstage girl-turned-actress was my personal favourite addition to the cast and despite the fact I began to find the show tedious as it went on, I consistently found everything she did genuinely funny. I think it's hard to pinpoint any weak links in an ensemble cast that does manage to work together so well, but if we were picking strongest links then she is definitely that.

All-in-all, The Play That Goes Wrong is not an awful play and is certainly not the worst thing on the West End right now. I just feel like it really is what it says on the tin: a show that has come from smaller fringe venues and has found itself in the West End surrounded by some competitive and strong pieces of drama. Sure it isn't the most high brow or sophisticated piece of theatre on the planet and maybe it isn't the most relaxing night of theatre either, but it has an audience in those that like slapstick and ridiculous comedy and are willing to immerse themselves in a whole lot of silly.

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