Pentacle Theatre’s current production of The Play That Goes Wrong is an excellent antidote for the whirl of holiday shopping and preparation and comedy fans owe it to themselves to see this show before it ends on Saturday, Dec. 9.
The Play That Goes Wrong was written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields. It has won numerous awards and continues to play in London.
The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society has received a substantial bequest and is putting on a performance of The Murder at Haversham Manor – a 1920s murder mystery play, similar to Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
During the performance, a play within a play, disasters befall the cast, including doors sticking, props falling from the walls and floors collapsing. Cast members are seen misplacing props, forgetting lines, missing cues, breaking character, mispronouncing words and being manhandled off stage. One cast member is knocked unconscious, and her replacement refuses to yield when she returns.
Director Susan Shoapps, a Pentacle mainstay, lets the play do its thing from beginning to end. She has gathered a talented cast that, at the performance I saw, kept the audience in stitches. There is not a false note in this modern comedic classic that will probably play in theaters big and small for years.
The cast of eight shares the fun of performing the show with its audience. Ken Hermens, a local actor with an impressive show resume fills his role as Perkins the butler, in the play-within-a-play, with excellent timing and elastic expressions.
All of the cast members are having the time of life; there is not a misstep from any of them. Standouts were Shay Hasse as the two-timing Flora and Brent Didde, a young Salem actor who has a bright show business future in front of him.
Robert Bennett, Zach Brehm, Jeremy Clinton, Tyler Hasse and Melanie Mozena complete the cast.
The direction by Shoapps is spot on, capturing the ridiculousness and slapstick of the show. Her direction and the cast are aided by a set that moves the story to its conclusion.
A disastrous production never seemed so right as The Play That Goes Wrong at Pentacle Theatre. Remaining performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays and 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday, through Dec. 9. Tickets range from $17 to $37.