Ends Dec 31

The Play That Goes Wrong

Members say: Hilarious, Funny, Entertaining, Clever, Great staging
69 reviews
410 reviews

The 2015 Olivier Award winner for Best New Comedy arrives on Broadway. Welcome to the absolutely disastrous opening night of Cornley University Drama Society’s new show, 'The Murder at Haversham Manor.'

... Read more

This 1920s whodunit has everything you never wanted in a Broadway show: a ramshackle set, a leading lady with a concussion, and a corpse that can't play dead. Direct from its hit London run, 'The Play That Goes Wrong' is a celebration of the best of live theater…and the worst.

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Reviews (479)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

The New York Times

"My reactions ranged between thinking this play was exhaustingly funny to finding it just plain exhausting...Everything is pitched so aggressively, you wind up feeling as battered as the ensemble. I propose putting your rational mind into sleep mode, the better to savor tickling images of order-inverting bizarreness, straight out of Dada, in which suddenly nothing is in its customary place or being used for its customary purpose. There's a wild, redeeming poetry in such anarchy." Full Review

Broadway News

"With its relentless working of a handful of hoary gags, it amply proved that the law of diminishing returns applies to the mechanics of farce perhaps more than it does to any other theatrical genre...The actors and the director certainly deserve commendation for the precision of the physical comedy...Long before the red herrings had been sorted out I came to feel that it wasn’t just the play-within-the-play that was going wrong, but the whole exhausting, exhausted conceit." Full Review


"This is a planned demolition (and an exceedingly well-executed one at that)...We wonder how on earth the performers are going to sustain this level of lunacy. Remarkably, they do...Their comic timing is so precise you can't help but laugh. Their pratfalls are so real, you can't help but gasp...'The Play That Goes Wrong' isn't a brilliant comedy, but you're going to laugh anyway. This is two hours of unapologetic, stupid fun, buoyed along by a cast of ultra-committed performers." Full Review


"So many jabs to the funny bone that even if only a third of them strike properly you're in for a sufficient number of laughs...While the cast members expertly pull off their madness with crack timing, the star of the show turns out to be set designer Hook...While there are plenty of laughs to be had, the enjoyment comes primarily from an appreciation of the comedic skills on display. A bit of empathy-inducing playwriting might elevate the show to something beyond a long, albeit amusing, skit." Full Review


“A machine that grinds out laugh after laugh…Technically, the orchestration of sight gags and slapstick on Nigel Hook's brilliantly rigged set is highly impressive. But is it actually, y'know, funny? As a lover of British humor...I have to say that an hour of this stunt is plenty for me. Cumulatively, it's farce on steroids, without any brains. I'd be lying to say I laughed as much as the people around me. Glad they had a good time. Me, I need a little substance to ground the guffaws.” Full Review

Time Out New York

"Depending on your tolerance for ceaseless slapstick, 'The Play That Goes Wrong' will either have you rolling in the aisles or rolling your eyes. It is certainly a marvel of coordination: The imported British cast deftly navigates the pitfalls of Nigel Hook’s ingeniously tumbledown set, and overacts with relish...But you may find it rather exhausting...It struggles to sustain interest in its series of absurdly unfortunate events. The show must go on, yes, but must it go on quite so long?" Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The show bears no small debt to Frayn’s classic farce, 'Noises Off,' but it pales by comparison...This effort is pure slapstick from first moment to last, and wears very thin over a two hour-plus running time...The production certainly fulfills its modest creative aspirations...There’s no paucity of wit to the proceedings, and Bell stages the action with clockwork precision...But for all the strenuous effort involved, the repetitive show evaporates in your mind the moment it concludes." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"The Laugh-o-Meter that the producers rigged up at the back of the house spontaneously combusted. Or maybe there was no such thing; but if so, they need not replace it. Four minutes in, there’s so much laughter going on that any device set to register it is sure to go bust...What we discover is that what’s hilarious in London is every bit as hilarious across the pond. Which is not, alas, always the case...All told, 'The Play That Goes Wrong' goes uproariously right." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Little more than a procession of gags, sometimes executed with tremendous dexterity, but most of them unconnected to anything resembling reality. They are gags for gags' sake...The pace is so relentless and the absence of anything but gags, gags, gags quickly wore out its welcome...If you don't find the first ten minutes amusing, settle in for a long night. If you find yourself laughing early on, you've come to the right place." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"A silly slapstick backstage farce that has improbably opened on Broadway...Its silliness is relentless, beginning before all the playgoers have even taken our seats...The running jokes are repeated with what I suppose is intended as mounting hilarity, although some might see it as diminishing returns. 'The Play That Goes Wrong' could just as easily have had a running time of 20 minutes as two hours, without losing anything essential." Full Review

Theater Life

"Two hours of hilarity...You would think this one-joke premise would run out steam after an hour, but Mark Bell’s breakneck staging keeps the guffaws building as the play-within-a-play keeps deteriorating. The English company is an inspired lot of buffoons...'The Play That Goes Wrong' is marvelously right with English visitors giving us Americans a welcome break." Full Review


"Under the go-for-broke direction of Mark Bell, its high-energy cast is comic gold and manages to sustain, with a never-ending series of diversionary tactics, its one-joke concept...It’s more lowbrow, interested in the gag and shameless in how it gets it: sometimes incredibly inventively, but sometimes going for the low-hanging fruit...Though it could benefit from some cutting, the production is an idiot’s delight...But it takes a while before the laughs come at full speed." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Go see this play. There is NOTHING wrong with 'The Play That Goes Wrong.' Unless you've got something against laughing...My only quibbles with this production are that the last ten minutes or so happen so fast with so much falling apart on the stage that the intricate and hilarious story dissolves, along with everything else, before our eyes. What should have been fireworks is more like a fizzle...Nevertheless–get thee thither. Trust me. You need this much laughing." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"It's very funny, with more gags per minute than any new comedy in recent memory...There's no way not to laugh, almost continuously, at the spectacle of silliness unfolding before you...For all this, though, 'The Play That Goes Wrong' stops well short of hilarious. Even if, like me, you enjoy the nonstop antics across the two hours of playing time, you may find yourself frustrated by how shallow it all is...It's not enough to result in an evening that's satisfying, let alone coherent." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“This is a show you can laugh, chuckle, giggle, chortle, snicker, guffaw, hoot, titter, and roar at as a farcical illustration of Murphy's Law...Under Mark Bell's inspired staging, everything works to make it seem like nothing's working, including a truly remarkable set...A good reason the havoc works is the sangfroid with which the...mummers play their idiotic characters...as they advance in perpetual combat with walls, windows, floor boards, pillars, doors, heads, and props.” Full Review

The Huffington Post

“It’s 'Noises Off’ without the clever bits. Still, one does giggle a little and full credit to actors Lewis, Sayer and Shields for conceiving this show, writing and starring in it...It simply isn’t funny to have sets fall down…You need characters who seem aware of the disaster they’re in and are trying to figure a way out of the mess…All we get are punch lines with no setup…It’s not rooted in anything...Not always, mind you—sometimes real characters of a sort appear, almost as if by accident.” Full Review

AM New York

"'The Play That Goes Wrong' is a nonstop, intensifying rush in which the murder mystery is performed from beginning to end...It is strangely inspiring how this inept but well-meaning troupe keeps plowing through the script. As directed by Mark Bell, all of these obstacles are meticulously staged. The eight performers have individual personalities but come together to form a tight ensemble well-disciplined in the art of being hilariously bad." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"It’s so ridiculous it makes you feel almost ashamed to love it...The tumble from slapstick into absurdity is the best part of 'The Play That Goes Wrong'...Not that the stage tricks aren’t fun...But those tricks and carefully rehearsed ineptitudes are not, in the end, deeply satisfying, however well achieved they are...Though they let too much air out of the concept, shriveling somewhat its effectiveness and diminishing its buoyancy, I laughed at all of those things." Full Review

New York Daily News

"The curtain rises and things go awry...It’s the stuff that makes for a funny 10-minute skit...Unfortunately, there’s another hour-and-a-half to go in this show. That’s a lot of time to spend trying to grin and bear it...The Mischief Theatre has a game cast that will try anything for a chuckle...But along the way they forsake the fact that comedy requires logic...A comedy that comes up short with laughs and overstays its welcome—now that’s murder." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“Expect pratfalls galore, sight gags and a set that is timed for disaster by Nigel Hook, who will most definitely be nominated for a Tony Award…This whacked-out company of actors will have you laughing for almost two hours and, though each is superb, another Tony nod will go to Dave Hearn who steals the show just by being so amazingly super hyped to be there…This play may have gone wrong but when it does, it comes out deliriously right." Full Review


"It’s funny. Sometimes it’s very, very funny, though you have to keep the faith through an almost appallingly tin-eared and flat-footed first act to get to the good stuff...An overabundance of non-sensical sight gags, slow burns, pratfalls, missed cues, wink-winks and the like dull the viewer’s senses and drag out a sophomoric sketch that would be sharper and funnier at an intermissionless 80 minutes. On the other hand...'The Play That Went Wrong' aspires to no higher goal than escapism." Full Review


"Finds the line that separates the annoying and stupid from the I-can’t-believe-I’m-laughing-at-this brilliance. And when the company hits that line, which it does over and over, resistance is ultimately futile...Although Mark Bell is the real director, he should get a special Tony for best choreography in a nonmusical. The physical comedy demands stopwatch precision to make the cumulative antics, not just pratfalls and spit-takes, work without hurting the real actors." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"'The Play That Goes Wrong' goes wrong so many times, in such mellifluous ways, and with such far-gone commitment to physical comedy...The rare farce with actual worth. A farce that bucks you up by reminding you of the great human capacity for resilience...The exceptional direction of the piece, by Mark Bell, embraces risk and danger to an extraordinary extent. That means 'The Play That Goes Wrong' never seems safe or comfortable in its own skin." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Under Mark Bell’s direction, the ensemble cast delivers a high-energy, brilliantly acted farce that celebrates the magic of the theatre by highlighting its foibles—a resplendent conception concocted by writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields...A gift to audience members: two hours to let their guard down and allow themselves to laugh again...Your brain will thank you for the resplendent release of endorphins and the boost in happiness and well-being." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"One must admire the cast of eight for creating vivid characters and precisely executing the script’s many slapstick bits...Director Mark Bell keeps things moving relentlessly. While I feel a bit churlish criticizing a work that had me laughing uncontrollably several times, I had a problem with the play’s length. I would have liked it twice as much if it had been half as long. Two plus hours of repetitive slapstick without much plot or any wit is more than I can enjoy." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Enchanting, Great acting, Must see, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if You sick of perfection

Don't see it if You are professional actor.

Also Sometimes - too much "wrong" situations

Funny, Dizzying, Great acting, Indulgent, Great staging

See it if You want to laugh. I did laugh, but after a half hour I ran out of enthusiasm. I also hate that theater. Depressing and falling apart.

Don't see it if You mind ridiculous humor. Funny to a point.

Also The theater is dingy and colored my mood. The balcony ladies room coul... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Quirky, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You like physical/comedy theatre. I commend the cast for being so "flexible". I'm 32, had to climb stairs all the way to the balcony & ached

Don't see it if You don't like slapstick or farce. The British accents can be inaudible at times. Otherwise, I'd say see it once. Great stage trickery!

Delightful, Great acting, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you need a solid evening of laughs.

Don't see it if you do not enjoy slapstick or clowning.

Delightful, Exquisite, Great acting, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if You want to see a British farce that is pure perfection.

Don't see it if You do not like silly comedy.

Delightful, Dizzying, Great acting, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if you like broad British comedy "Fawlty Towers" style, plays where the set becomes another character, lots of physical comedy and wordplay,

Don't see it if you don't like a lot of physical comedy & Noises Off slapstick, British humor, actors crashing into set pieces, spoofs of murder mysteries.

Clever, Great acting, Must see, Quirky, Hilarious

See it if You want to see the funniest show ever on Broadway. The Brits truly rule slapstick. Must see!

Don't see it if You really can't deal with non-stop slap-stick comedy or worry about the safety of actors.

Delightful, Quirky, Cliched, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you're looking for a good belly laugh!

Don't see it if you're hoping for something new...

Dizzying, Disappointing, Great staging, Over the top, Too much

See it if you want mindless humor for 2 hours. you enjoy slapstick. you want to see great comedic timing

Don't see it if cheap laughs is not your thing. It gets old real fast and gets more and more ridiculous as the play progresses. it's overly silly

Dizzying, Great acting, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if you enjoy farce, split second timing, a ridiculous plot and amazing physical performances by a crackerjack cast. So much fun.

Don't see it if you don't care for farce. Maybe, if you do see this, it might change your mind.

Funny, Clever, Refreshing, Hilarious

See it if Backstage and on stage farces are the best, in the vein of Noises Off. So much has gone wrong in this play and yet it feels so right.

Don't see it if you don't like laughing out loud and bending over almost falling off your seat.

Indulgent, Hilarious, Long, Great staging, Repetitious

See it if think you will enjoy 2+ hours of slapstick without wit or much plot.

Don't see it if your tolerance for slapstick is limited and you like your humor to be laced with wit.

Also Kudos to the hardest working actors on Broadway. They are amazing, but... Read more Read less

Funny, Delightful, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you are willing to surrender to the silliness and go along for the ride. Personally, I had a great time. The performers are wonderful.

Don't see it if you don't appreciate slapstick, silly humor; stunts and shtick that are more important than story; light fare.

Clever, Enchanting, Exquisite, Hilarious

See it if You love a great laugh! It's a pee your pants kind of play! Everyone makes their broadway debuts!

Don't see it if you don't like plays

Delightful, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You enjoy physical comedy and want to laugh for a couple of hours straight! Brilliantly funny, don't miss this!

Don't see it if Prat fall style comedy doesn't speak to you

Clever, Great acting, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy slapstick comedy & are looking for a fun time at the theatre.

Don't see it if You are looking for something deep or dramatic. Or if you are not a fan of British comedy

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if you like comedies

Don't see it if you don't like comedies

Funny, Dizzying, Disappointing, Overrated, Great staging

See it if you don't like having to think about stuff. This show is 100% cheap laughs, 0% substance.

Don't see it if you prefer humor that's supported by plot. The mostly unclever jokes are like empty calories--devoid of any substance. They just hang there.

Great acting, Must see, Refreshing, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if You want to see a flawlessly executed old school style farce with a modern sensibility. You embrace a show that encourages heckling.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy slapstick or British humor (although I don't like slapstick and still loved it)

Cliched, Hilarious

See it if an L-O-L night is what you're looking for. Expertly staged and featuring a dedicated ensemble, you're guaranteed a laugh or two (or four).

Don't see it if low-brow comedy isn't your thing. Though the show is extremely funny, many of the repeated gags can reach the point of "ugh, not that again"

Funny, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you're looking for an engaging comedy with an abundance of laughs, a talented ensemble, and great comedic timing—a light and fun show.

Don't see it if you want to see a show with heavy subject matter or thought-provoking writing. You dislike farce and plays like Noises Off.

Funny, Fluffy, Easy to watch

See it if you're looking for a very (VERY) light day/evening of theater where you don't have to think and can let your cares go!

Don't see it if you want a deep, meaningful play. This is all fun, but a little bit goes a long way so the joke does get old after a while.

Ambitious, Delightful, Dizzying, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if you need 2 hours of literally non stop laughs

Don't see it if you don't like physical comedy

Funny, Clever, Masterful, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you like to laugh. I laughed from start to finish. Extremely well-done and very intelligently crafted.

Don't see it if you don't like to laugh.

Clever, Masterful, Cliched, Overrated, Great staging

See it if you love slapstick comedy. Benny Hill stuff. Superb direction, but this has been done better in NOISES OFF

Don't see it if if you're expecting NOISES OFF, it doesn't come close. Shockingly I couldn't hear the actors. I could understand, but they could project.