All is well at ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ presented to Garvin – The Channels

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Channel Arts Pages | CRITICAL REVIEW

Ben Crop

Courtesy of SBCC Theater Group.

A crowd descended on the Garvin Theater on Wednesday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m. to watch “The Play That Goes Wrong” presented by the City College Theater Group.

Courtesy of SBCC Theater Group.
Courtesy of SBCC Theater Group. (Ben Crop)

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, the play features “The Murder at Havershamn Manor” from the fictional Cornley University Drama Society.

The performance was already beginning when I took my first steps in the theatre.

As the audience slowly seeped into the auditorium, a man approached me in a 1920s-style suit, smiling. He thanked me for coming to see “The Murder at Haversham Manor” and continued to walk through the crowd and speak to the audience. I couldn’t tell if he was part of the cast or just a very well-dressed gentleman.

It was hard for me to keep track of who an actor and audience member was. I didn’t want to look away for fear of missing a funny anecdote.

There was a moment when a woman in the audience was approached by a cast member to help with stage maintenance. After a few minutes of sweeping and building, she was escorted back to her seat.

Courtesy of SBCC Theater Group.
Courtesy of SBCC Theater Group. (Ben Crop)

Once the game started, I was caught off guard by many things that went wrong in the first minute. There was an actor tripping, props not working, and bad sound effects playing through the crowd. After a while, the laughter started to pick up as the crowd began to understand these planned mistakes.

The cast often broke the fourth wall by looking at the audience for a cry for help or approaching an audience member.

One of the most unique parts of this performance was Isaac Lewis’s role as Trevor, the angsty sound and lighting technician who was visible around the corner from the stage. Just as you get lost in the history of the Havershamn family, Trevor’s mechanical mistakes lead you back into several layers of storytelling that have been presented.

Not only was I intrigued by the mistakes of the actors, but I was also invested in the murder mystery aspect of the play. I often forgot that I was looking at one play on another play.

Courtesy of SBCC Theater Group.
Courtesy of SBCC Theater Group. (Ben Crop)

Just as the performance drew to a close, there was a wave of endless chaos. As this dismay continued, it became slightly overwhelming. There were times when it became difficult to focus on a single event, and I felt I missed some of the other anecdotes happening simultaneously.

Props from the set that I didn’t know could break, break and the ground literally fell under the actors. These elicited loud gasps, followed by relieved laughter from the audience.

The audience’s joy and humor spilled over to the actors as they took their last bow.

“The Play That Goes Wrong” will be presented at the Garvin Theater until Thursday, October 29.

Tickets can be purchased on Theater Groups website or at the Garvin Theater box office.

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