Melbourne has been spoilt lately with an exceptional array of quality theatre. From Circus 1903, to Kinky Boots, to The Book of Mormon, those looking to be entertained by the stage have had plenty to take in over the summer months.
But there will soon be another quality production mounted at the Comedy Theatre, with the uproarious British farce The Play That Goes Wrong, playing at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre from February 22, before embarking on a national tour.
I attended the show’s Media Call last Wednesday, and have the privilege of hearing from one of the show’s producers, Jon Nicolls and the show’s director Sean Turner, who both told us the fascinating history behind this show and what they hope to achieve with the Australian production of the show, which has been a monster hit on the West End since premiering in 2012. The brainchild of writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields, the show plays tribute to British slapstick of years gone by, with Fawlty Towers and Noises Off! striking me as the two most obvious influences.
The play is an old-fashioned 1920s-style murder mystery in the tradition of The Mousetrap, in which every mishap, pratfall and blunder befalling the ill-fated cast as they stumble through the performance.
Before the local cast came out to perform a scene, we were treated to a 10-minute video clip of the British cast’s appearance on 2015’s Royal Variety Performance, which had the assembled crowd in fits of laughter. We were then treated to a short segment with the show’s Australian cast, who have only been in rehearsals for two weeks, but who have already all seemed to nail their characters and launch themselves into the frenzied comedic spirit of the show. The short scene we were treated too was a wonderful teaser for the full show.
After the performance, we got the chance to mingle with the cast and crew and I had the absolute pleasure of chatting to one of the Australian production’s stars, the versatile and incredibly talented Brooke Satchwell, who was an absolute delight to speak with and who told me she was having the time of her life performing in such a play and it was one of the most fun she’s had so far in her career. Brooke also discussed the physical demands of the show, and said she was sporting a few bumps and bruises from all of the stunts and physical humour her character must perform, but said she was relishing the opportunity to be part of such a wild farce. It was no surprise to hear that the show was just as much fun to perform as it is to watch.
Fans of the aforementioned Fawlty Towers and Noises Off! will love this new show, which is a loving throwback to a golden age of comedy, which hopefully will introduce a whole new generation to this unique brand of comedy.
The Play That Goes Wrong, playing at:
Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre from February 22nd
Adelaide from 28 March to April 2
Sydney from 5 April
Canberra from 25-30 April
Brisbane from 4-14 May
Perth from 31 May-11 June