|Guests at Haversham Manor drink a toast to their departed host. (Photo by Scott Lasky)
It takes great skill and talent to stage a play
that’s supposed to be as glitch-ridden as “The Play That Goes Wrong” by Henry
Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields.
Luckily, Palo Alto Players’ cast and crew have an
abundance of both in this 2012 play within a play. Six of the eight actors are
double-cast, playing roles in the inner play, “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” which is
supposedly presented by an English company, the Cornley Drama Society.”
Its convoluted plot involves the murder of Charles
Haversham (Drew Benjamin Jones on opening night, alternating with Christopher
Mahle), the night of the party celebrating his engagement to Sandra (Michelle
The suspects are everyone there that evening,
including his brother, Cecil (Braden Taylor), and the butler, Perkins (Brandon
Silberstein). Inspector Carter (Brad Satterwhite) is looking into the case as
Along the way, everything that could possibly go
wrong does. The Cornley actor playing Charles can’t get comfortable on the
chaise. Decorative items fall off the wall. A stretcher tears apart. Even the
upstairs library collapses.
Sandra disappears, forcing Annie (Jen Maggio,
alternating with Damaris Divito), a reluctant, then preening stage hand to fill
in for her. Cornley actors flub their lines.
The action evolves into hilarious farce, leaving the
plot somewhat irrelevant and requiring the actors to be ever more acrobatic and
agile. Small wonder some strenuous roles are double-cast.
Director Katie O’Bryon Champlin guides the cast
through all this mayhem with spot-on timing. Great credit goes to scenic
designers Patrick Klein and Kevin Davies for building a set fraught with danger
while keeping the actors safe.
The fight and fall consultant is Dexter Fidler.
Costumes are by Jenny Garcia, lighting by Carsten Koester and sound by Jeff
Grafton. Others were crucial in creating
Plot is secondary to the visual and aural delights
in this hilarious play with its talented cast and crew.
Running about two hours with an intermission, “The
Play That Goes Wrong” will continue through Feb. 5 at the Lucie Theater, 1305
Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.
For tickets and information, call (650) 329-0891 or