The Play That Goes Wrong

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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 Henry Lewis
Jonathan Sayer
Henry Shields
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 of 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 mantlepiece, 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 repeats an earlier line of dialogue and causes the dialogue sequence triggered by that line to be repeated, ever more frenetically, several times); missing cues; breaking character; having to drink white spirit instead of whisky; mispronouncing words; stepping 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 (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 began a UK tour, following its run at Trafalgar Studios, from 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]

The play then opened at the Duchess Theatre in the West End on 14 September 2014, where it remains and is currently booking until September 2018.[3] The direction is by Mark Bell, and the cast features Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields. Sets are by Nigel Hook and costumes are by Roberto Surace.[4][5]

The play 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]

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 features the original London cast, and film director J. J. Abrams makes his debut as a theatrical producer.[6] The production is expected to close on 6 January 2019, after 745 regular performances and 27 previews.[7]

Non-UK Tours[edit]

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]

United States (2018)[edit]

The play will tour the United States, starting in September 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[9][7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original London production[edit]

Year Award ceremony Category Nominee 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 production[edit]

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


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."[10] Tim Walker of The Telegraph gave it four out of five stars and called it "a great-looking, brilliantly performed piece".[11]

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 20 other countries, namely China, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Greece, Israel, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Iceland, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Turkey, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa & India (Natak na Natak nu Natak by Sharman Joshi Productions).[12]


  1. ^ "Best New Comedy". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "Home | Peter Pan Goes Wrong". Retrieved 2015-10-28. 
  3. ^ [1] tickets
  4. ^ Walker, Tim. " 'The Play That Goes Wrong', Duchess Theatre, review: 'delightful'" Telegraph, 18 September 2014
  5. ^ Shenton, Mark. " 'The Play That Goes Wrong' Review", retrieved 12 July 2018
  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. ^ Desk, BWW News. "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG to Tour Australia". Retrieved 2018-07-03. 
  9. ^ "Tour", retrieved 12 July 2018
  10. ^ Letts, Quentin (4 July 2013). "Comedy of errors gets it right". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  11. ^ Walker, Tim (18 September 2014). "The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre, review: 'delightful'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "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 links[edit]