The Play That Goes Wrong

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The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong

Official artwork for the West End production transfer to the Duchess Theatre
Written by Henry Lewis
Jonathan Sayer
Henry Sheilds
Date premiered 2012 (2012)
Place premiered Old Red Lion Theatre
Original language English
Genre Comedy
Official site

The Play That Goes Wrong is a play by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields. They are all part of the Mischief Theatre Company.

It won Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards.[1]

Mischief Theatre Company have also written Peter Pan Goes Wrong which opened at London’s Apollo Theatre in December 2015 and starred the original cast from The Play That Goes Wrong.[2]



Before the play starts the audience see the backstage staff doing last-minute adjustments to the set, including trying to mend a broken mantelpiece, and to find a dog that has run off.

The fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, fresh from such hits as The Lion and The Wardrobe, Cat, and James and the Peach or James, Where’s your Peach?, has received a substantial bequest and is putting on a performance of The Murder at Haversham Manor – a 1920s murder mystery play, similar to The Mousetrap, which has the right number of parts for the members. During the production a plethora of disasters befall the cast including: doors sticking; props on the walls falling down; floors collapsing. Cast members are seen misplacing props; forgetting lines (in one scene an actor repeating an earlier line results in the same dialogue being repeated, ever more frenetically, several times); missing cues; having to drink white spirit instead of whisky; mispronouncing words; standing on fingers; being hidden in a grandfather clock; and being manhandled off stage with one cast member being knocked unconscious and her replacement (and the group technician) refusing to yield when she returns. The climax is a tribute to a scene in Buster Keaton’s film Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928), when virtually the whole of the remaining set collapses.


London (Old Red Lion Theatre 2012 and West End 2013)

The play premiered at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London in 2012, moved to Trafalgar Studios in 2013, and opened to the Duchess Theatre in the West End on 14 September 2014, where it will remain until at least September 2017.[3][4][5]

UK Tour (2017)

The play began a UK tour, starting at the Theatre Royal in Bath from January 2017.

Broadway (2017)

On 14 November 2016 it was announced that the play will transfer to Broadway, opening on 3 April 2017 (with previews beginning 9 March 2017) at the Lyceum Theatre. The production will feature the original London cast, and American film director J. J. Abrams will make his debut as a theatrical producer.

Broadway Cast


Rob is an actor-musician, composer, and writer, trained at Rose Bruford. Credits include: Tinbad the Tailor in Sinbad the Sailor (New Wolsey Theatre), Baygon in Slow Falling Bird (Arts Theatre), Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet  (Watermill Theatre), Sir Kay in Sword in the Stone (New Wolsey Theatre), Trevor in The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess Theatre/Int. Tour), Trevor in Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Pleasance Theatre), Bull Bill in Cool Hand Luke (Aldwych Theatre). Music credits (MD, AMD, Designer, Composer) include: The Last Curiosity (River Studios, dir. Hanna Berrigan), Las Americas Above Festival (The Arts Theatre – Slow Falling Bird, Mothergun, Desert Rats, Human Emotional Process), The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Cool Hand Luke, Playboy of the Western World, Lights! Camera! Improvise!.
Dave is one of the founding members of Mischief Theatre. Training: LAMDA foundation course before completing a three-year acting course at Rose Bruford. Theatre includes: For Mischief Theatre: The Play That Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong; The Improfest in Poland; Let’s See What Happens; Lights! Camera! Improvise!; Late Night Impro Fight; Buffoons; and Mogic, as well as eight Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. Other credits include: Peter Pan Goes Wrong (BBC), Royal Variety Performance 2015 – The Play That Goes Wrong, Grease (Secret Cinema), Prometheus (Secret Cinema), Body of Water, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Herons, The Playboy of the Western World, Twelfth Night and The Master and Margarita.
Henry is an Olivier Award-winning writer, actor and is the artistic director of Mischief Theatre. Henry writes and performs for the company as well as producing. Henry trained at LAMDA and recent credits include: The Play That Goes Wrong (writer and actor – UK/International Tour and West End – Winner of Best New Comedy at the Olivier Awards 2015 and What’s On Stage Awards 2014), Peter Pan Goes Wrong (writer and actor – BBC/West End/UK Tour/Pleasance London – Nominated for Best Production and Best Ensemble at the Off West End Awards 2014), The Royal Variety Performance 2015 (writer and actor – ITV), Keep it in the Family (writer and actor – ITV), Lights! Camera! Improvise! (actor – West End/Soho Theatre– Winner of The Spirit of the Fringe Award), The Improvised Ad Break Live (Comedy Central – actor), The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (Pleasance – actor), Beasts & Beauties (Hampstead Theatre – actor), The Nativity Goes Wrong (Reading Rep – writer). Outside of Mischief Theatre Henry teaches at LAMDA and is the co-artistic director of The Trick for whom Henry produced the critically acclaimed revival of Mercury Fur (Old Red Lion Theatre and Trafalgar Studios – Nominated for Best Production & Winner Best Design at The Off West End Awards 2013) and the UK Premier of Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts at The Southwark Playhouse for which he won the Mark Marvin Prize at the Peter Brook Empty Space Awards.
Actor/Collaborative Development with Mischief Theatre since 2009. Training: CSVPA, LAMDA. Theatre includes: Lights! Camera! Improvise! with Mischief Theatre (Edinburgh Fringe, in Poland, London – including the Duchess Theatre – and around UK since 2009), Sandra in The Play That Goes Wrong (Old Red Lion, Trafalgar Studios, Edinburgh Fringe, UK tour and Duchess Theatre), Sandra in Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Pleasance, London) and Marianne in The Miser (Watermill Theatre). Television includes: Peter Pan Goes Wrong (BBC), Royal Variety Performance 2015 – The Play That Goes Wrong,”Doctors,” “And Then There Were None” (BBC1), “Keep it in the Family” (ITV) and “#FindTheGirl” (for BBC3 online). Radio includes: “Taste – A Twist of Dahl” (BBC Radio 4).
Jonathan is an Olivier Award-winning writer and the company director of Mischief Theatre working as a writer, actor and producer. Training: LAMDA. Theatre includes: The Play That Goes Wrong (UK and international tour – writer/actor, Olivier Awards and Whatsonstage Awards Best New Comedy), Peter Pan Goes Wrong (UK tour, Pleasance, London – writer/actor), The Nativity Goes Wrong (writer, Mischief Theatre and Reading Rep co-production), Lights! Camera! Improvise! (Pleasance, Edinburgh, Soho Theatre, Arcola, Underbelly and Krakow Improfest – actor, improviser, producer, Spirit of the Fringe Award 2013), Rachael’s Café (Old Red Lion – general manager) and Happy Birthday Simon (Orange Tree – actor). Television includes: Royal Variety Performance 2015 – The Play That Goes Wrong,” A Life Less Ordinary” (pilot) and “The Anti- Social Network” (actor), Peter Pan Goes Wrong (BBC). Radio includes: “Not a Love Story” (BBC Radio 4 – actor). Jonathan teaches improvisation and has taught at LAMDA, Mountview and Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts (CSVPA).
Henry is an Olivier Award-winning writer and has been a member of Mischief Theatre since 2009. Theatre includes: recently, The Play That Goes Wrong (UK and international tour – writer/actor, Olivier Awards and Whatsonstage Awards Best New Comedy), Peter Pan Goes Wrong (UK tour and Pleasance, London – writer/actor, 2014 Off West End Awards nominations for Best Production and Best Ensemble), The Nativity Goes Wrong (writer, Mischief Theatre and Reading Rep co-production), Lights! Camera! Improvise! (Pleasance, Edinburgh, Soho Theatre, Arcola and Underbelly – actor, Spirit of the Fringe Award 2013) and The Busy Body (Southwark Playhouse). Television includes: Royal Variety Performance 2015 – The Play That Goes Wrong, “Holby City” and “Keep it in the Family” (ITV), Peter Pan Goes Wrong (BBC).
Training: LAMDA. Credits whilst training include: Cabaret, Arcadia, Dancing at Lughnasa, Our Country’s Good, As You Like It and Some Voices. Theatre includes: The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Play That Goes Wrong (Mischief Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lamb Players), Beyond Beauty (Rebel Theatre), Events While Guarding the Bofors Gun (Pennard Road Productions), Irons (Local Girl Productions) and The Shoemaker’s Holiday (Sam Wannamaker Festival, Shakespeare’s Globe). Television includes: The Royal Variety Performance 2015 (The Play That Goes Wrong), Peter Pan Goes Wrong (BBC).
Actress/creative development for Mischief Theatre since 2009. Theatre includes: The Play That Goes Wrong (original cast), Peter Pan Goes Wrong (original cast), Lights! Camera! Improvise!(original cast; Soho Theatre, Trafalgar Studios, Duchess Theatre, Pleasance Edinburgh and international performances – Spirit of the Fringe Award 2013), London 50 Hour improvathon 2015 and Shadow Language (Theatre 503). Television includes: Peter Pan Goes Wrong (BBC), Royal Variety Performance 2015 – The Play That Goes Wrong, “Frankie and Emma,” “The Improvised Ad Break Live,” “Wilder” (pilot), “Welcome to Neverland,” “Stupid” and “Bus Life.” Directorial credit: Dying City (Gatehouse).


Australian Tour (2017)

A touring production will begin in Australia at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne from February 2017, before heading to Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth.


The Play That Goes Wrong received positive reviews. Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail gave it five stars out of five, saying “As it all goes awry it becomes hard not to gas yourself with laughter. At one point I feared I was going to hyperventilate.”[6] Tim Walker of The Telegraph gave it four out of five stars and called it “a great-looking, brilliantly performed piece”.[7]


The Play That Goes Wrong has been translated and licensed for productions in over 20 other countries, namely China, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Greece, Israel, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Argentina, Uruguay, Turkey, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines and South Africa.[8]


  1. ^ “Best New Comedy”. Olivier Awards. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  2. ^ “Home | Peter Pan Goes Wrong”. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
  3. ^ Brown, Mark (17 October 2014). “The Play That Goes Wrong proves right for West End”. The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  4. ^ “The Play That Goes Wrong”. WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  5. ^ “THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG Extends Through Next Autumn; PETER PAN GOES WRONG Set for Holiday Season”. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
  6. ^ Letts, Quentin (4 July 2013). “Comedy of errors gets it right”. The Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  7. ^ Walker, Tim (18 September 2014). “The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre, review: ‘delightful'”. The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  8. ^ “West End Frame: Peter Pan Goes Wrong transferring to the West End whilst The Play That Goes Wrong extends booking period”. Retrieved 2015-10-28.

External inks

  • Official website