Everything you need to know about ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ in the West End
From how to get The Play That Goes Wrong tickets to when to see the show, here’s your ultimate guide to the West End comedy.
Meet the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society — the real stars of The Play That Goes Wrong. The amateur dramatics group do all they can to make their latest show — Murder at Haversham Manor — a success, battling all the odds seemingly stacked against them to make it to curtain up. As the title suggests, it's not so easy for the group: scenery, props, and even actors seemingly go walkabout. But this ever-optimistic troupe can make anything possible. Sometimes things have to go wrong in order to be right.
The Play That Goes Wrong changed the face of the West End. Not only did it put 21st-century comedy storytelling back on the map, it also solidified Mischief Theatre as a leading company. Discover why you need to see the Olivier-winning play at the Duchess Theatre and get your tickets now.
What is The Play That Goes Wrong about?
The Play That Goes Wrong play follows the misadventures of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society. The amateur theatre troupe get together once a year to stage a show, and this time it’s the mystery play Murder at Haversham Manor.
As the play begins, the cast are already facing a losing battle: forgotten lines, faulty props, and broken scenery make it challenging to put on a show. But then things go from bad to worse: misunderstandings, fires, and collapsing set make it almost impossible. Can the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society defeat the odds? Or will it all go wrong?
Where is The Play That Goes Wrong playing?
The Play That Goes Wrong is at the Duchess Theatre. The Duchess Theatre is located on Catherine Street, and is close to the Novello Theatre and the Aldwych Theatre. With a seating capacity of just under 500, it’s one of the smaller West End theatres.
How long is The Play That Goes Wrong?
The Play That Goes Wrong running time is 2 hours, including a 15-minute interval. It’s one of the shortest plays in the West End. Check out the running times of West End shows.
What days is The Play That Goes Wrong playing?
The Play That Goes Wrong plays eight performances a week at the Duchess Theatre. Matinee performances take place on Saturday and Sunday. Evening performances take place daily from Tuesday to Sunday. For the complete performance schedule and show times, please visit the The Play That Goes Wrong page to learn more.
When did The Play That Goes Wrong premiere?
The Play That Goes Wrong didn't start out in the West End. The first performance took place at the Old Red Lion Theatre in 2012, a 60-capacity pub theatre in north London. It didn't even start out with the title The Play That Goes Wrong either; the first performances were called The Murder Before Christmas. Thankfully, the play has a cheerier, catchier title now.
After this, The Play That Goes Wrong moved to Trafalgar Studios for six weeks in 2013. The play quickly became popular, and had to extend for three weeks to accommodate audience demand. Then, a year later, The Play That Goes Wrong premiered in the West End. Previews began on 5 Sept. 2014, with an opening night on 14 Sept. 2014.
Who wrote The Play That Goes Wrong?
Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields co-created The Play That Goes Wrong. The trio met at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and formed the theatre troupe in 2008. Mischief Theatre is now synonymous with irreverent, energetic comedy. They're also the creative brains behind shows such as The Comedy about a Bank Robbery, Groan Ups, as well as making Magic and A Christmas Carol go wrong. Find out more about Mischief Theatre in London and beyond.
The Play That Goes Wrong characters
As The Play That Goes Wrong follows a play-within-a-play structure, all the actors play two characters. Get familiar with the show’s characters before seeing the play.
Annie Twilloil: Annie is the stage manager of Murder at Haversham Manor. She is responsible for handling the technical aspects of the show. She’s frustrated by those she has to work with and is initially terrified by acting. By the end, she throws herself into the action and discovers a new passion.
Chris Bean: Chris is the director of Murder at Haversham Manor, and plays Inspector Carter. As a serious thesp, he takes his positions seriously and struggles to contain his anger, and he'll break cracker to stop audiences laughing at the (obvious) mistakes.
Dennis Tyde: Dennis is an actor in the play, cast as Perkins. He is portrayed as a dim-witted and clueless character who is unable to remember his lines or perform basic tasks. However, he's only joined the society as nobody else will accept him.
Jonathan Harris: Jonathan plays Charles Haversham in Murder at Haversham Manor. He believes he’s the next James Bond, and often models and play sports outside of acting.
Max Bennett: Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Max plays supporting character Cecil Haversham in Murder at Haversham Manor. Although he does what he’s told, he’s often making mistakes and doesn’t take any ownership. But, he's a kind and considerate teammate.
Robert Grove: Robert is an actor in the play, portraying the role of Thomas Collymore. He wishes he could be Richard Burton. He struggles to understand when he is going wrong and will continue to do anything he wants. Robert and Chris battle it out to become President of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society.
Sandra Wilkinson: Sandra has dreams of making it big in Hollywood, and will always stay on the good side of someone in the hopes of pursuing her career. Sandra plays Florene Colleymore in Murder at Haversham Manor.
Trevor Watson: Trevor is the lighting and sound operator for the play-within-a-play. Perhaps ironically, he’s not a big fan of actors, but begrudingly acts in the play when called upon.
What awards has The Play That Goes Wrong won?
While The Play That Goes Wrong is a play rooted in Britishisms, the Mischief Theatre play entertained audiences on both sides of the pond. Here’s all the major awards won by The Play That Goes Wrong.
Best New Comedy
Best Scenic Design of a Play
Drama Desk Awards
Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play
Major productions of The Play That Goes Wrong
2012: Mischief Theatre premiere The Play That Goes Wrong at the Old Red Lion Theatre on 4 Dec. 2012.
2013: The play moves to Trafalgar Studios, with performances from 30 April - 1 June, and 2 - 20 July.
2014: The Play That Goes Wrong opens in the West End. Performances begin at the Duchess Theatre on 5 Sept. 2014.
2017: The Play That Goes Wrong opens on Broadway. The show runs from 2 Apr. 2017 to 6 Jan. 2019.
2019: The Play That Goes Wrong transfers to New World Stages Off-Broadway. Performances begin on 11 Feb. 2019. The show was put on hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic, reopening on 15 Oct. 2021.
How to get The Play That Goes Wrong tickets
Even though the title implies terrible mistakes, The Play That Goes Wrong is definitely doing something right! It’s the longest-running West End comedy play and continues to leave audiences in fits of laughter. Discover the debut Mischief Theatre show in London and join in the fun.
The Play That Goes Wrong tickets are available now. Book tickets to The Play That Goes Wrong on London Theatre today.
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