Mischief Theatre

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Mischief Theatre
The Goes Wrong Show.jpeg
Cast and crew behind the production The Goes Wrong Show
TypeTheatre group
  • United Kingdom
Artistic director(s)
Henry Lewis
Jonathan Sayer
Henry Shields

Mischief Theatre, also fictitiously known as The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, is a British theatre company specialising in comedy. They have produced the 'Goes Wrong Show'.The company was founded in 2008 by a group of students from The London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art[1] in West London. Since its inception the company has performed scripted and improvised comedy in the West End of London, across the United Kingdom, and in Europe and Asia.


Mischief Theatre's ensemble members are: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Dave Hearn, Harry Kershaw, Charlie Russell, Josh Elliott, Mike Bodie, Nancy Wallinger, Henry Shields, Niall Ransome, Bryony Corrigan and Rob Falconer.

The company is led by Director Henry Lewis and Company Director Jonathan Sayer.[2]


Mischief Theatre performed their first show Let's See What Happens[3] on Tuesday 15 July 2008 at The Questors Studio Theatre in Ealing. Let's See What Happens ran at The Questors Theatre for a week before it moved to The Edinburgh Festival the following month. Since then Mischief Theatre has produced three more of its own improvised shows: Lights! Camera! Improvise!,[4] Late Night Impro Fight[5] and Improvaganza and scripted shows including; The Murder Before Christmas,[6] Mogic and The Buffoons.

On 1 April 2020, Mischief Theatre began the weekly podcast "Mischief Makers", which focused on the members of the Mischief theatre.[7]

Notable productions[edit]

The Play That Goes Wrong[edit]

The Play That Goes Wrong[8] is a play by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields. It premiered at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London in 2012,[9] moved to Trafalgar Studios in 2013,[10] toured the UK and internationally in 2014 and opened to the Duchess Theatre in the West End on 14 September 2014. In the play The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempt to put on a 1920s murder mystery, but the performance is beset with disasters and the accident prone cast struggle through every scene.

It won Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards and Best New Comedy at the WhatsOnStage.com Awards in 2014[11]

Its run in London's West End at the Duchess Theatre was extended until November 2020.[12]

Foreign language productions of The Play that Goes Wrong have also been presented in France,[13] Israel, Finland, Italy, Belgium and Russia.

Productions were due to open in China, United States, Australia, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Greece, Israel, Scandinavia, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Argentina, Uruguay, Turkey, New Zealand, Singapore, Philippines and South Africa.[citation needed]

The Comedy About a Bank Robbery[edit]

The Comedy About a Bank Robbery is a comedy play, written by Lewis, Sayer and Shields.[14] The play opened at the West End's Criterion Theatre on 31 March 2016, with an official opening night on 21 April 2016. The show is ended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original cast included: Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, Jonathan Sayer, Nancy Zamit, Dave Hearn, Charlie Russell, Greg Tannahill, Jeremy Lloyd and Chris Leask

The play is directed by Mark Bell, with set design by David Farley and costume design by Roberto Surace.[15]

Peter Pan Goes Wrong[edit]

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a comedy play by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields in the 'Goes Wrong' range. It premiered at the Pleasance Theatre in London in December 2013 before touring the UK in 2014 and 2015,[16] and in December 2015 it opened at London's Apollo Theatre.[17] Following widespread critical acclaim, Peter Pan Goes Wrong returned to the Apollo Theatre for a limited run from 21 October 2016 – 29 January 2017.[18][better source needed]

The play is adapted from the original stage play Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie and in it the inept and accident prone Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society set out to present the classic tale of Peter Pan with comical and disastrous results.

The production was nominated for two Off West End Awards[19][failed verification] for Best Production and Best Ensemble.

Lights! Camera! Improvise![edit]

Lights! Camera! Improvise! is an improvised comedy show format devised and performed by Mischief Theatre.[20] The show was first presented at The Edinburgh Festival in August 2009[21] and has since been performed across the UK and internationally as well as at The Duchess Theatre in the West End.

In the show a film collector named Oscar invites the audience to suggest genres, locations and a title for a film which he then finds in his extensive DVD collection. A company of six or seven performers then improvise a longform narrative based on these ideas under the direction of Oscar.

In 2013 the production won a Spirit of the Fringe Award at Edinburgh Festival.

In 2017 the show, renamed Mischief Movie Night, began a limited run at The Arts Theatre in London's West End.

Vaudeville Theatre residency[edit]

In September 2019 Mischief Theatre began a year long residency at the Vaudeville Theatre in London's West End, alongside the long-running productions of The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy About a Bank Robbery.

Groan Ups[edit]

Groan Ups was written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, and was the first production of the residency, running from 20 September until 1 December 2019, featuring the original Mischief company and directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward.

Magic Goes Wrong[edit]

Magic Goes Wrong is a collaboration between the company and Penn & Teller that combines the Goes Wrong formula with actual stage magic. The production began previews 14 December 2019, prior officially opening on 8 January 2020.[22] It had been extended to run until August 2020,[23] but the COVID-19 pandemic shut it down in March.

Television productions[edit]

Peter Pan Goes Wrong was adapted for a one-hour television special which was broadcast on 31 December 2016 on BBC One. It featured almost the entire original cast (with the exception of Rob Falconer) and guest starred David Suchet as the narrator.[24]

On 30 December 2017, A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong aired on BBC One, featuring both Dame Diana Rigg and Sir Derek Jacobi. Following the events of the previous year, the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society have now been blacklisted by the BBC. Determined to get back on the air, they hijack a live broadcast of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.[25] The special was watched by a reported audience of 4.61 million.[26]

On 22 February 2019, it was announced the company would create a six-part BBC One series titled The Goes Wrong Show, starring the original cast and creatives behind The Play That Goes Wrong.[27][28]

The Nativity will be the subject of the 2020 Christmas special.[29]

Peter Pan Goes Wrong, A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong and The Goes Wrong Show were filmed at dock10 studios.[citation needed]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Play That Goes Wrong Nominations and Awards (UK and Broadway)
Year Award Ceremony Category Result
2014 WhatsOnStage Awards Best New Comedy[30] Won
2015 Broadway World UK Best New Play[31] Won
Olivier Awards Best New Comedy[32] Won
2017 Broadway.com Favourite New Play[33] Won
Broadway World Best New Play[34] Won
Drama League Award Best Play Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play (Nigel Hook) Won
Tony Award Best Scenic Design of a Play (Nigel Hook) Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Set Design (Nigel Hook) Nominated
2019 Broadway World Funniest Play of the Decade[35] Won
Lucille Lortel Awards Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play (Matt Walker) Nominated
The Comedy About A Bank Robbery Nominations and Awards
Year Award Ceremony Category Result
2016 Olivier Awards Best New Comedy[36] Nominated
2020 Mousetrap Awards[37] Power of the Ensemble Nominated
Peter Pan Goes Wrong Nominations and Awards
Year Award Ceremony Category Result
2016 Olivier Awards Best New Comedy[38] Nominated
Groan Ups Nominations and Awards
Year Award Ceremony Category Result
2020 Mousetrap Awards Spectacular Set Nominated
Magic Goes Wrong Nominations and Awards
Year Award Ceremony Category Result
2020 Olivier Awards Noel Coward Award for Best Entertainment or Comedy Play[39] Nominated


  1. ^ "Peter Pan Goes Wrong to be broadcast on the BBC this Christmas". What's On Stage. 15 August 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  2. ^ "About Us". Mischief Theatre. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Mischief Theatre on the theatre, the West End and things that go wrong!". Performance Reviewed. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Lights Camera Improvise". Nimax Theatres. Archived from the original on 18 December 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Late Night Impro Fight". The List.
  6. ^ Lines, Sarah. "The Murder Before Christmas - Old Red Lion Theatre". The Good Review.
  7. ^ Mischief (1 April 2020). "Big Mischief announcement! We have a BRAND NEW PODCAST coming out NEXT WEEK! We can't wait for you all to hear it...pic.twitter.com/NOz8kJvcUo". @mischiefcomedy. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  8. ^ "The Play That Goes Wrong". www.theplaythatgoeswrong.com. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Sheer Schadenfreude: The Play That Goes Wrong at the Old Red Lion Theatre". One Stop Arts. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  10. ^ Spencer, Charles. "The Play That Goes Wrong, Trafalgar Studios, Review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Full List: Winners of the 2014 WhatsOnStage Awards". Whats On Stage.
  12. ^ "The Play That Goes Wrong". Nimax Theatres. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  13. ^ "Les Faux British". Théâtre Tristan-Bernard. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Olivier Winners Stage Bank Robbery". officiallondontheatre.co.uk. Official London Theatre. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Play That Goes Wrong team launches new West End show". thestage.co.uk. The Stage. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  16. ^ "Upcoming Shows". Mischief Theatre. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  17. ^ "Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Apollo Theatre)". What's On Stage. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  18. ^ "Show". Peter Pan Goes Wrong. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  19. ^ "OffWestEnd.com - The_offies - The definitive guide to London's Off West End theatre scene, featuring listings and details for over 80 theatres, news, discussion and exclusive special offers". 15 July 2014. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  20. ^ "Lights! Camera! Improvise!". Nimax Theatres. Archived from the original on 18 December 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  21. ^ Hawkins, Rowena. "Edinburgh Review: Lights! Camera! Improvise! – The Improvised Movie, Pleasance Courtyard". A Younger Theatre. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  22. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Mischief Theatre to Join Forces With Penn & Teller for Magic Goes Wrong". Playbill. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  23. ^ Desk, BWW News. "MAGIC GOES WRONG Extends Until August 2020". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  24. ^ "BBC One - Peter Pan Goes Wrong". BBC. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  25. ^ "BBC One - A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong". BBC. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  26. ^ "Weekly top 30 programmes: BBC 1 (SD+HD): 2017: December: 25 Dec - 31 Dec". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.
  27. ^ Gans, Andrew. "BBC Will Air 6-Part Series The Goes Wrong Show, Based on The Play That Goes Wrong". Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  28. ^ "BBC One - The Goes Wrong Show". BBC. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  29. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/christmas-tv-2020
  30. ^ "Full List: Winners of the 2014 WhatsOnStage Awards | WhatsOnStage". www.whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  31. ^ Desk, BWW News. "BWW:UK AWARDS 2015 - Cumberbatch, HAMLET, Ellis, Staunton All Winners!". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  32. ^ "Olivier Winners 2015". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  33. ^ "The Play That Goes Wrong - Official Site". www.theplaythatgoeswrong.com. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  34. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Winners Announced For the 2017 BroadwayWorld UK Awards". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  35. ^ Criscitiello, Alexa. "10 Years of Broadway Superlatives - Celebrating The Standouts of the Decade!". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  36. ^ "Olivier Winners 2017". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  37. ^ "Mousetrap Awards". Mousetrap Theatre Projects. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  38. ^ "Olivier Winners 2016". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  39. ^ "Olivier Awards 2020 with Mastercard - Theatre's Biggest Night". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 16 March 2020.

External links[edit]