The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong is a 2012 play by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields of Mischief Theatre Company. It won Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards.[1] As of September 2021, the show has been running since 2012 in London; since 2014, the play has undertaken four tours of the UK.

The Play That Goes Wrong
The Play That Goes Wrong artwork.jpg
Official artwork for the West End production transfer to the Duchess Theatre
Written by
Date premiered2012 (2012)
Place premieredOld Red Lion Theatre
Original languageEnglish
Official site


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 find a dog that has run off.

The fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society (Cornley University in the American version), 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. The script was written by the fictitious Susie H. K. Brideswell. During the performance, a play within a play, a plethora of 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, having to drink white spirit instead of whisky (paint thinner in the U.S. production), mispronouncing words, stepping on fingers, being hidden in a grandfather clock, and being manhandled off stage. One cast member is knocked unconscious, and her replacement (the group technician) refuses to yield when she returns. In another scene, an actor repeats an earlier line of dialogue, cuing the other actors to repeat the whole dialogue sequence, ever more frenetically, several times. The climax is a tribute to a scene in Buster Keaton's film Steamboat Bill, Jr., when virtually the whole of the remaining set collapses.


London (2012–present) and UK tours (2014–present)Edit

The play premiered at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London in 2012, moved to Trafalgar Studios in 2013. The play then opened at the Duchess Theatre in the West End on 14 September 2014, where it remains. The direction is by Mark Bell. The cast included Henry Shields as Chris, Dave Hearn as Max, Rob Falconer as Trevor, Henry Lewis as Robert, Charlie Russell as Sandra, Jonathan Sayer as Dennis, Greg Tannahill as Jonathan, and Nancy Zamit as Annie. Sets are designed by Nigel Hook and built by Splinter Scenery. Costumes are designed by Roberto Surace.[2][3]

The play began a UK tour in January 2014 at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, visiting 17 venues and ending in Darlington in July, prior to the opening at the Duchess Theatre in London.[citation needed] It began a second UK tour from January 2017, starting at the Theatre Royal in Bath, ending at the Cambridge Arts Theatre in August.[citation needed], A third UK tour occurred in 2018, ending in October in Poole. And a fourth UK tour commenced on 13 July 2021 at the Marlowe Theatre Canterbury,[4] and is due to conclude at the Waterside Theatre Aylesbury on 27 November 2021.[5]

Broadway (2017)Edit

The play opened on Broadway on 2 April 2017, with previews that began on 9 March 2017 at the Lyceum Theatre. The production featured the original London cast, and film director J. J. Abrams made his debut as a theatrical producer.[6] The production closed on 6 January 2019, after 745 regular performances and 27 previews.[7]

Australian tour (2017)Edit

A touring production began in Australia at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne from February 2017, before heading to Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth.[8]

US Tour (2018)Edit

The play toured North America, starting in September 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[9][7] The original tour cast included Brandon J. Ellis as Trevor, Evan Alexander Smith as Chris, Yaegel T. Welch as Jonathan, Peyton Crim as Robert, Scott Cote as Dennis, Jamie Ann Romero as Sandra, Ned Noyes as Max, and Angela Grovey as Annie. Also on the tour as understudies were Michael Thatcher, Sid Solomon, Blair Baker, and Jacqueline Jarrold.

Off-Broadway (2019)Edit

The Broadway production transferred Off-Broadway to New World Stages on 11 February 2019.[10] As of March 12, production was suspended through June 7, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This suspension has been extended until October 15, 2021 when it will reopen for the first time since March 2020.[11][12]

TV specialsEdit

Two television specials, an adaptation of Peter Pan Goes Wrong and a sequel titled A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong, aired on BBC One in December 2016 and 2017.[13][14]

A TV series, The Goes Wrong Show, followed in 2019.[15][16] In December 2019, a full series of "The Goes Wrong Show" was broadcast featuring 6 episodes[17][18][19] with the same cast as the other two TV specials. Each episode was said to have received an average of 2.2 million people watching it when broadcast.[20]

Following the success of the first series, the BBC commissioned a second series which premiered its first episode on 27th September 2021.

Roles and principal castsEdit


Character Original London and Broadway cast
U.S. tour
Chris Bean Henry Shields Evan Alexander Smith Matt Harrington
Robert Grove Henry Lewis Peyton Crim Brent Bateman
Jonathan Harris Greg Tannahill Yaegel T. Welch Chris Lanceley, Max FitzRoy-Stone
Sandra Wilkinson Charlie Russell Jamie Ann Romero Ashley Reyes, Maggie Weston
Max Bennett Dave Hearn Ned Noyes Matt Walker
Dennis Tyde Jonathan Sayer Scott Cote Bartley Booz
Annie Twilloil Nancy Zamit Angela Grovey Bianca Horn, Angela Grovey
Trevor Watson Chris Leask, Rob Falconer Brandon J. Ellis Ryan Vincent Anderson, Jason Bowen
Understudies Bryony Corrigan, Amelia McCan


  • Chris Bean, who plays Inspector Carter and serves as the show's director, set designer, costume designer, prop maker, box office manager, press and PR person, dramaturgy, voice coach, dialect coach, and fight choreographer and filled in for the role of Mr. Fitzroy during rehearsals
  • Jonathan Harris, who plays Charles Haversham
  • Robert Grove, who plays Thomas Colleymoore
  • Dennis Tyde, who plays Perkins
  • Sandra Wilkinson, who plays Florence Colleymoore
  • Max Bennett, who plays both Cecil Haversham and Arthur the Gardener
  • Trevor Watson, the lighting and sound operator
  • Annie Twilloil, the stage manager

Awards and nominationsEdit

Original London productionEdit

Year Award ceremony Category Result
2014 WhatsOnStage Award Best New Comedy Won
2015 BroadwayWorld UK Award Best New Play Won
Laurence Olivier Award Best New Comedy Won

Original Broadway productionEdit

Year Award ceremony Category Nominee Result
2017 Tony Award Best Scenic Design of a Play Nigel Hook Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Set Design Nominated
Drama League Award Best Play Nominated

Off Broadway productionEdit

Year Award ceremony Category Nominee Result
2019 Lucille Lortel Awards Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Matt Walker Nominated


The Play That Goes Wrong received positive reviews. Tim Walker of The Telegraph gave it four out of five stars, calling it "a great-looking, brilliantly performed piece" and stated that "I have seldom, if ever, heard louder or more sustained laughter in a theatre."[24] Mark Shenton of the London Theatre gave it four out of five stars, stating that though the play would not appeal to everyone, "you cannot fail to admire the ceaseless energy of the cast", and shared that "the real surprise is just how well-sustained the joke is."[25]

Sarah Hemming of the Financial Times gave the play four out of five stars, noting its shared lineage with plays such as Noises Off and stated that "It’s not new then, but it is often very funny." Though she found areas in the play that needed improvement ("it would be funnier if it started more subtly, rather than at full tilt.... The company could also make more of offstage dynamics"), she considered the play to be "largely a joyous show."[26]

The Broadway production of The Play That Goes Wrong won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design in a Play.


The Play That Goes Wrong has been translated and licensed for productions in over 30 other countries, namely China, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Greece, Israel, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Iceland, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Turkey, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Portugal (UAU), Croatia, Russia, India (Natak na Natak nu Natak by Sharman Joshi Productions) and the Czech Republic.[27]


  1. ^ "Best New Comedy". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  2. ^ Walker, Tim. " 'The Play That Goes Wrong', Duchess Theatre, review: 'delightful'" Telegraph, 18 September 2014
  3. ^ Shenton, Mark. " 'The Play That Goes Wrong' Review", retrieved 12 July 2018
  4. ^ "The Play That Goes Wrong Tour 2021 - The Play That Goes Wrong Tickets". British Theatre (in British English). 1 April 2021. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  5. ^ MISCHIEF. "MISCHIEF". (in British English). Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  6. ^ " 'The Play That Goes Wrong' Opens on Broadway April 2" Playbill, 2 April 2017
  7. ^ a b "Crisis Averted! THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG Extends Through January 2019". BroadwayWorld. 11 July 2018.
  8. ^ BWW News Desk. "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG to Tour Australia". Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  9. ^ "Tour", retrieved 12 July 2018
  10. ^ McPhee, Ryan (20 December 2018). "The Play That Goes Wrong to Move Off-Broadway". Playbill.
  11. ^ Clement, Olivia (1 May 2020). "The Latest Statuses of Off-Broadway Theatres During the Shutdown". Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  12. ^ "New World Stages". Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Peter Pan Goes Wrong". BBC One. BBC. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  14. ^ "A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong". BBC One. BBC. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  15. ^ Gans, Andrew (22 February 2019). "BBC Will Air 6-Part Series The Goes Wrong Show, Based on The Play That Goes Wrong". Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  16. ^ "BBC One - the Goes Wrong Show".
  17. ^ "The Goes Wrong Show - BBC1 Sitcom".
  18. ^ "The Goes Wrong Show".
  19. ^ Saunders, Emma (20 December 2019). "The Goes Wrong Show: When festive frolics go awry". BBC News.
  20. ^ Guide, British Comedy (14 February 2020). "The Goes Wrong Show gets second series". British Comedy Guide (in British English). Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  21. ^ "The Play That Goes Wrong Original Broadway Cast - 2017 Broadway".
  22. ^ Gans, Andrew (18 September 2018). "National Tour of The Play That Goes Wrong Launches September 18". Playbill. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  23. ^ "Off-Broadway Return of the Play That Goes Wrong Opens February 20 at New World Stages". 20 February 2019.
  24. ^ Walker, Tim (18 September 2014). "The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre, review: 'delightful'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  25. ^ Shenton, Mark (15 September 2014). "The Play That Goes Wrong Review". London Theatre. Encore Tickets. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  26. ^ Hemming, Sarah (17 September 2014). "The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre, London – review". Financial Times. The Financial Times Ltd. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  27. ^ "West End Frame: Peter Pan Goes Wrong transferring to the West End whilst The Play That Goes Wrong extends booking period". Retrieved 28 October 2015.

External linksEdit