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The Play That Goes Wrong at The Alexandra, Birmingham - Review

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Am Dram spoof is a winner
This play has been going wrong since 2013 and the audience at The Alexandra in Birmingham were delighted that there's no sign that it's going to go right any time soon. Since debuting at London's Old Red Lion Theatre The Play That Goes Wrong has received awards for Best New Comedy and Best New Play, has toured the UK, America and Canada and featured on The Royal Variety Show. As time goes by, it seems to be going from strength to strength.

The premise is simple. The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is staging a production of Murder At Haversham Manor. The director, who is also the star, reckons he has the perfect cast. The set looks impressive and rehearsals have been encouraging. What could possibly go wrong? Well… everything. And it's hilarious.

The Play That Goes Wrong, The Alexandra Birmingham, Theatre Review, Colin Burnicle, Gabriel Paul, Edi de Melo, Kazeem Tosin Amore


The fun begins before the house lights go down. There are some technical issues so an audience member is persuaded to help put the finishing touches to the set. Props malfunction, scenery falls… it's just a small taste of what's to come.

No comedy style is ignored – there's farce, physical humour, wordplay, forgotten lines, slapstick. Even the fourth barrier is broken when the director/star stops the performance to berate the audience for applauding an over-enthusiastic cast member, then reminding them that "this is not pantomime" but receiving calls of "he's behind you" in response.

The Play That Goes Wrong, The Alexandra Birmingham, Theatre Review, Colin Burnicle, Gabriel Paul, Edi de Melo, Kazeem Tosin Amore
Kazeem Tosin Amore, Colin Burnicle, Damien James and Steven Rostance


They say that it takes immense talent to perform deliberately badly for comic effect, so bravo to the cast who, if that maxim is true, must be immensely talented! I almost felt sorry for Colin Burnicle, as director and star Chris Bean, because he really made us feel that he wanted Murder At Haversham Manor to be a success. And absolutely nothing went to plan!

Edi De Melo is marvellous as the over-enthusiastic Max Bennett (who took two roles in Murder At Havesham Manor), as is Damien James as Dennis Tyde, who played Perkins the butler and had to write words he couldn't remember on his palm – but then mispronounced them.

Kazeem Tosin Amore is a towering figure with a booming voice – his character, Robert Grove, considers himself almost a professional actor and even offers acting lessons. Of course, he is all at sea when the set begins to shake.

The Play That Goes Wrong, The Alexandra Birmingham, Theatre Review, Colin Burnicle, Gabriel Paul, Edi de Melo, Kazeem Tosin Amore
Fixation: Gabriel Paul as Trevor


Aisha Numah gives a spirited performance as Sandra Wilkinson, whose role is the fiancé of the murdered owner of Haversham Manor (played by Steven Rostance), while Beth Lilly is a hoot as stage manager Annie Twilloil.

Almost stealing the show is Birmingham School of Acting-trained Gabriel Paul as lighting and sound engineer Trevor Watson, a man with a worrying Duran Duran fixation!

All in all, a great night of entertainment, watching it all go wrong.

Rating: ★★★★

The Play That Goes Wrong, The Alexandra Birmingham
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Why? Multi award-winning comedy
When: May 16 - 21, 2022
Phone: 0844 871 7615
Where: The Alexandra, Birmingham
Cost: From £13 plus fees
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