Nonsense please, we’re British
Despite their craziness, there’s something oddly comforting about a well-produced, well-acted farce. I’ll never forget being doubled-over with laughter at “No Sex Please, We’re British”, but I think it started well before then, with a panto obsession. I used to think there was the odd mistake, until I saw the same show twice in one season, and realised the obvious truth: the ‘mistakes’ were scripted, timed and performed to perfection.
Even when I realised this, it struck me that I didn’t care, and I think that’s the joy behind it all.
Last Tuesday I saw “The Play That Goes Wrong” at the Newcastle’s Theatre Royal. I know the score – my parents have seen both previous productions, and I watched the brilliant “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” on the BBC over Christmas. Given the show’s popularity and well-deserved rave reviews, I’d imagine everyone in the full-house crowd knew exactly what was about to happen: a play within a play, in which everything that could go wrong, does. And then some…
What’s strange is that after the first ten minutes or so, I sort of forgot that things going wrong was the point. By the time we reached the second half and perhaps the most dramatic thing that does go wrong, there were genuine gasps of horror amongst the audience (mine amongst them). And the cheers at any slight victory, whether a graceful exit from a tricky situation, or managing to keep the lines flowing whilst physically holding the play together, were equally genuine.
As the play came to a close, a tiny part of me was almost glad of the break! My sides were aching, and my face soaked from tears. The last time this happened was during “Noises Off” – another play within a play, and even more on-stage disasters.
It’s been a good couple of years of theatre shows for me, and “The Play That Goes Wrong” is definitely the best so far. Here’s to plenty more theatre adventures, and hopefully a touring version of “Peter Pan” or “The Comedy About A Bank Robbery”…