During the course of my writing for Vintage Life Magazine I was very fortunate to recently be asked to interview an amazing man, Roberto Surace who is the costume designer on the new play “The Comedy about a Bank Robbery” which is set in 1950’s Minneapolis.
Whilst talking to him (article soon to be published in Vintage Life) we talked about the many plays that he had been involved with. I was fascinated about all he had to say and the interview went flying by.
By a fluke, he asked where I was travelling back to, and when I stated “Northampton” Roberto couldn’t believe it, as he was coming to my hometown with “The Play that Goes Wrong” a couple of weeks after our meeting.
Well, I could hardly miss it and got myself a ticket on the opening night, Thursday 04th January. The fact that the play is set in the 20’s meant I wore my Voodoo Vixen Olive Green velvet dress, with a peacock feather headpiece.
I mean, if you can’t get dressed up for the theatre, when can you?
I was lucky to get one of the last seats, in Row J, just 8 rows from the front. Off I set for the Royal and Derngate Theatre, bubbling with excitement.
Arriving 15 minutes before the performance started, I took my seat and waited for the show to start.
I have to admit to being a little baffled to start with……
There were several people walking around asking if we had seen a dog on the way into the theatre. It became apparent that there was a dog that should be part of the performance which had gone missing. Squeaky toys were deployed to try and get the dogs attention, as they walked around calling the dogs name.
To say I was confused was an understatement, however it all became clear once the play started.
Without spoiling the plot or revealing any secrets, the basic gist is that the Cornley Polytechnic are putting on a murder mystery performance which is set in the 20’s.
Now, the fact that it is called “The Play that Goes Wrong” means that things do not go quite to plan.
I guess most people would call it a Farce. Think along the lines of Fawlty Towers and Frank Spencer. Any and every thing that can go wrong does, whilst the Polytechnic players try and cope with the issues that crop up all the way through the performance.
So, is it funny?
I can honestly say that the first half had me laughing so hard, I could hardly catch my breath. It was so silly, yet clever, yet stupid, yet so very brilliant that you couldn’t help but laugh along with the antics on stage.
When it came to the interval, Roberto met me in the bar. I was so effusive over what I had seen, and the fact that I hadn’t laughed as hard in many years. I expressed the fact that I didn’t think there was anything else left to go wrong, to which Roberto replied “Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet”
We arranged to meet after the show ended and I retook my seat and waited for the second half.
Well, he wasn’t wrong. The second half was twice as good as the first. I literally laughed my socks off and had tears of laughter running down my cheeks.
I knew I would end up looking like Alice Cooper as my eyeliner slid down my cheeks.
Roberto was totally on the ball about the set. It literally did things that I never ever expected, and I have never laughed as hard as I did during the two hours of the show.
I found out afterwards that Nigel Hook, the set designer actually won the 2017 Tony Award for best set design of a play.
I was not surprised as it is THAT good.
We met up after the play ended and I was literally speechless. It was a fantastic performance and Roberto’s costumes and Nigel’s set just blew me away. I still just don’t know how they both came up with the concepts that they did.
Mischief Theatre Productions who put the play on, are also responsible for a couple of other plays that are based on the same characters from the Polytechnic – Peter Pan that goes Wrong and A Christmas Carol that goes Wrong which have been made into BBC programmes that have aired over the last two Christmas periods.
The hope is that this play will also follow the trend and become a Christmas special in the future and to be honest, it really does deserve it.
I have never laughed as hard as I did watching the performance. It was a new style of performance, yet had an old style of delivery. This is something that is missing from some of the juvenile comedies that are out there.
For me, it was one of the best things that I have seen in quite awhile, and I am now looking forward to seeing “The Comedy about a Bank Robbery” in London, as I know It will be a spectacular performance.
As for “The Play That Goes Wrong”, it is currently on a UK Tour and I highly recommend going and seeing it – you can find tickets here
Did you see any of these performances on television? Been to see this at the theatre? What exactly did you think to them?
Till next time