Ends Dec 31

The Play That Goes Wrong

Members say: Hilarious, Funny, Entertaining, Clever, Great staging
75 reviews
575 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.'

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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 (650)

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

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


"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

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

Front Mezz Junkies

"Without a dull unfunny moment in this two-hour production, I’d say it’s quite an achievement, one that even on second viewing kept me laughing from the first second to the last...It takes a lot of talent to be this bad and act terribly so well, and these troupe members mess up, fall down, get their lines out of sync, and ride this disaster out to the end, miraculously...If this is failing, then it’s the best failure I’ve seen on stage since the madcap 'Noises Off' last year at the Roundabout." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Hilarious, Entertaining, Over the top, Lowbrow, Farcical

See it if you want to turn your brain off after a long day at work & laugh your ass off. This is the mother of all farces. My face hurt from laughing.

Don't see it if you prefer highbrow plays that make profound statements, or if you loathe farces.

Also I love a farce & this is one hell of a farce. It's madcap & crazy funn... Read more Read less

Clever, Masterful, Hilarious, Entertaining, Fluffy

See it if you need a good laugh, and even more so if you need a laugh and know anything about putting a show on the stage. Silly laughs throughout!

Don't see it if you're seeking high-brow entertainment, riveting social commentary, or any other type of serious drama. They'll have none of that here!

Delightful, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging, Perfect timing

See it if you want to laugh for 2+ hours. The cast does a great job of involving the audience. Great send up, without being unkind, of lesser works.

Don't see it if You are really not in the mood to be amused, laughing in spite of yourself.

Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if You want to see a comedic masterpiece that does not let up in energy and laughs for the full run, lead by masterful performances all around!

Don't see it if You hate laughing and fun makes you angry.

Clever, Delightful, Hilarious, Silly!

See it if You need a laugh....or fifty.

Don't see it if You have no tolerance for farce and slapstick.

Funny, Ambitious, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if You are really into slapstick and repetitive jokes. It hits the mark a few times and if you laugh easily, you'll like it.

Don't see it if You need more of an element of surprise to find things funny. It felt very long and repetitive. Needed to be tighter for it to work better.

Clever, Must see, Quirky, Hilarious

See it if You like extremely well done slap stick humor and actors nightmare situations

Don't see it if You weren't a fan of noises off, this is similar

Clever, Delightful, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You want to see a Noises Off-style farce about putting on a show that will have you completely out-of-breath with laughter.

Don't see it if You don't like farce, struggle with British accents (or don't have a good grasp of English, like the tourists sitting behind me).

Also My favorite show of the 2016-17 season, for sure.

Riveting, Confusing, Inconsistent, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if You want to belly laugh to pratfalls and mayhem.

Don't see it if You have a low tolerance for metahumor or want to understand what is happening at any given moment.

Also There were some scenes (the grandfather clock) that had me laughing ti... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you enjoy top-notch slapstick comedy; if you're a fan of Monty Python skits (not too raunchy).

Don't see it if you prefer a musical; if you don't enjoy laughing out loud.

Funny, Raunchy, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You like a good farce

Don't see it if You hate farce

Great staging, Slapstick, Cheeky, Mindless

See it if You've ever participated in sub-par community/student theater - particularly as a techie, for the astonishing breakaway set, for laughs

Don't see it if Looking for a real plot/story, or anything other than a bit of pure mindless entertainment, for gender parity, if ex-Spiderman TOTD cast

Great acting, Quirky, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you need a good belly laugh

Don't see it if you really object to slapstick humor

Funny, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Hilarious

See it if you want to laugh non-stop.

Don't see it if you aren't a fan of farces or slapstick comedy

Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you like slapstick comedy and want to see it done perfectly

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

Funny, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging, Fluffy

See it if you want to laugh your butt off for 2 hours. I was in tears before intermission even came.

Don't see it if you are into serious dramas or don't enjoy slapstick comedy.

Funny, Clever, Dizzying, Indulgent, Entertaining

See it if If you live farce and enjoy theatre comedies that riff on theatre. If you love slapstick and cleaver staging.

Don't see it if If you don't like one extended theme for the comedy. If your not into physical comedy. If you have seen many similar style shows.

Funny, Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Fluffy

See it if you enjoy slapstick humor and easy laughs.

Don't see it if you are looking for intelligent humor. This felt like a two hour long SNL sketch.

Funny, Clever, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you don't mind slapstick and sight gags; this is a Monty Pythonesque show with lots and lots of silliness in true Brit fashion.

Don't see it if you are a very serious person who hates slapstick comedy and ridiculous sight gags. You have no patience for silliness on the stage.

Also This is one you will either love or hate. For some, it will be a gut b... Read more Read less

Funny, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You're looking for silly fun. I smiled, chucked and laughed from start to finish.

Don't see it if You looking for serious theatre. The gags become a bit repetitive and there's no real point to it all -except to make you laugh.

Funny, Masterful, Great writing, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if you want to laugh out loud for 2 hours

Don't see it if you want to see something smart and thought-provoking

Funny, Delightful, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you want to laugh. My stomach hurt from laughing so much when it was over.

Don't see it if you don't think physical comedy is funny.

Funny, Dizzying, Quirky, Entertaining, Fluffy

See it if Non-stop physical, slapstick, silly comedy. Well performed.

Don't see it if Non-stop physical, slapstick, silly comedy. Well performed.

Delightful, Great acting, Quirky, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you're a fan of physical comedy, utter chaos, and watching everything fall apart spectacularly

Don't see it if you don't find physical comedy funny, you cringe at horrible acting (purposeful or otherwise), or you dislike predictable mishaps

Clever, Masterful, Quirky, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if unbridled silliness is your idea of good theater. The performers' extraordinary physical skill & the flexible set are worth the ticket price

Don't see it if plot & character development are your idea of necessary theatrical elements. If who done it is important to you, you're in the wrong theater