BLUFFDALE — The Bluffdale Arts Advisory Board’s The Play that Goes Wrong is an unforgettable production that raises the bar for community theatre and kept me laughing all evening.
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields, The Play that Goes Wrong first premiered in London in 2012. It has since toured around the world and has been a popular comedy for theatre companies around the world.
In The Play that Goes Wrong, The Cornley Drama Society hopes to redeem itself after their previous productions, which required modifications due to a shortfall of props and casting issues: The Lion and the Wardrobe, Cat, and James, Where’s Your Peach? Their newest production is The Murder at Haversham Manor, a 1920s Agatha Christie-type whodunit murder mystery. What ensues is anything but redemption with everything (unsurprisingly, given the title) going wrong including missing props, forgotten lines, and a set that is literally falling apart.
Director Julie Fox had no shortage of talent with the most spontaneous, uninhibited cast I have ever witnessed. Her direction resulted in an ensemble with chemistry and camaraderie. All those on stage exuded an enjoyment that was palpable and intoxicating, each giving noteworthy performances.
Colin Baker was superb as Inspector Carter, and his dialect was consistent and accurate throughout the production. His disappointment in all the mishaps felt genuine and natural. One example of many was when he was calling the time of death for a certain character. The script called for the time to be 12:00. Of course, the clock on stage was set to 5:00. I loved the way Baker quickly adjusted his line with such tiring resignation.
Brady Fox as Cecil Haversham and Arthur the Gardener lovingly portrayed an actor performing in front of an audience for the first time. He consistently broke the fourth wall by smiling and waving to all those in attendance, giving the character some charm. Spencer Fox as Thomas Colleymore amazed me with his physicality, particularly as he delivered his lines laying down on a slanted floor while trying desperately not to fall off stage. As Charles Haversham, Jordan Reeves did an excellent job of portraying an actor who did not quite master his role of playing a dead man.
Lexi Fox as Florence Colleymore was striking on stage with her short bob haircut, bright red dress, and long pearl necklace. I appreciated how the script and direction allowed Florence to be just as physically involved in the production as her male counterparts, and Lexi Fox leaned into that aspect of her role spectacularly. I was particularly impressed with her vulnerability as her body was being twisted and turned in all directions as her castmates attempted to lift her through a window.
Aurianna Luker played Annie, a convincing flustered stage manager who found herself thrust into the role as Florence. The evolution of her portrayal of Florence was epic, beginning with intimidation and ending with an all-out brawl to retain the role. Jonah Elsberry played Perkins the Butler, who frequently mispronounced words or forgot his lines altogether, which led to one memorable scene with the actors having to continuously repeat a series of dialogue because Perkins did not deliver the correct line.
Boston Smith as Trevor the lighting and sound operator sat off to the side of the stage throughout the play. Unfortunately, Trevor’s role was diminished as the night progressed because he sat mostly in the dark. Adding some type of lighting to illuminate his equipment would have helped keep him from fading into the background.
The ultimate star of the play was the set. Kelly Checketts created a flawlessly flawed set that never ceased to amaze me. Never has a set enticed a variety of emotions within me. I audibly gasped several times and am still surprised no one on stage was hurt. Everything appeared to fall, break or tilt with exact precision. The strength of the set was amplified by the work of sound engineers Ralph Dablin and Karla Zimmerman and the lighting team Mark Tonkinson, Whitney Tonkinson, Kelsha Peterson, and Eric Peterson, which was all executed their cues perfectly.
Admittedly, I was confused by a few details throughout the night. Baker was the only actor that delivered his lines using a British dialect. Was that intentional to showcase the flaws of the show, or did the other actors choose not to use one? Thomas Colleymore’s microphone had frequent issues. Given that there were no other issues with the sound, I wondered if it was just another planned thing going wrong in the play or a genuine problem. Regardless, these details did not distract from the overall value of the production.
Bluffdale’s The Play that Goes Wrong is a delightful, quality production with highly impressive talent from all those involved. With free admission and concessions, it is well worth your time to attend. I may just see it again.