The Play that Goes Wrong, Bath Theatre Royal

IN these dreadful days of mutating viruses, blocked seaports, blustering Brexit negotiators and tiered living, what we most need (apart from the certainty we can’t get) is laughter. And that’s just what Mischief Theatre is serving up on stage at Bath this Christmas.

For reasons you can read elsewhere on the FTR, audiences are enjoying the West End cast on stage in Bath, at least for two weeks. They are performing a slightly re-written version of the hilarious show that has been entertaining packed theatres around the country for the past eight years, with a bit of mask-wearing and social distancing and a few nods to both the season and the location.

I started my theatre-going at the age of four, when my mother was on stage in When We are Married, and I yelled, horrified, from the stalls when her “husband” boxed her ears. I have spent my working life reviewing plays and I can’t imagine how many murder mysteries I have seen in that time, both amateur and professional. So The Play That Goes Wrong is wonderfully familiar.

It follows the tried and tested Farndale (and other) plays, casting its actors as members of an Am Dram Soc, the much-missed backbone of so much village and town life during this Covid year. It is broad farce, relying on physical theatre, acrobatics and incredible timing as the company performs the improbable story of the murders of Charles and his brother Cecil in Haversham Manor.

And if it can go wrong, it does. Sets collapse, actors are knocked out by scenery, props disappear, cues are missed and some of the actors are more than a little star-struck, specially by the grandeur of Bath’s beautiful theatre. It’s not a pantomime, but it is Christmas, so a bit of gentle audience participation is not to be frowned on.

You might have seen the show before – in Bath, in London, on TV or elsewhere, but it never loses its power to make you crease up with laughter.  Don’t miss the chance of giving yourselves a couple of hours of socially-distanced, sanitised, temperature checked fun, with Covid firmly behind you.

The run is due to end on Saturday 16th January, before a national tour.


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