Follow TV Tropes


Context Theatre / ThePlayThatGoesWrong

Go To

1[[quoteright:350:]] ²²-> ''"This set is a bloody death trap!"''²-->--'''Trevor''', after suffering one too many AmusingInjuries²²''The Play That Goes Wrong'' is a play by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields. They are all part of the Creator/MischiefTheatre Company.²²The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, riding high on their previous successful play performances (including ''[[Literature/JamesAndTheGiantPeach James and the Peach]]'', ''[[Literature/TheLionTheWitchAndTheWardrobe The Lion and the Wardrobe]]'', and ''Theatre/{{Cat|s}}''), has been commissioned to perform ''The Murder at Haversham Manor'', a 1920s murder mystery. However, as production starts, just about everything that can go wrong does. The comedy ranges through slapstick, forgotten and mispronounced lines, the set falling apart, and much more.²²It was followed by two sequels, ''Theatre/PeterPanGoesWrong'' and ''Film/AChristmasCarolGoesWrong''.²²----²!!''The Play That Goes Wrong'' contains examples of:²²* ActingForTwo: In-universe example, as Max plays both Cecil and Arthur the gardener. Nonverbally lampshaded when Max grins at the audience the first time he appears as Arthur.²* AcquiredErrorAtThePrinter: The advertising of the production is often badly installed and misspelled. The image on the program is off centered and cut off by the border. The logo on the cast change notice is upside down. And in the Broadway Production, in the list of shows near the back of the Playbill, the whole advertisement is printed upside down. [[note]] And due to the nature of the Playbill magazine, this applies even if you receive it at an entirely different show. [[/note]]²* AllForNothing: During the course of the show, various props fall off the walls. They are reinstalled during the intermission only for all of the replaced props to fall down almost as soon as the characters begin to speak.²* AmbiguouslyGay: Max really, really doesn't want to kiss Sandra. When Trevor ends up having to read Florence's lines, though, he's much more enthusiastic. On the other hand, ''Theatre/PeterPanGoesWrong'' shows that Max has a crush on Sandra, which pushes him into AmbiguouslyBi territory. ²* AmusingInjuries: A lot of the humor revolves around this trope.²* AudienceParticipation: Before the play begins and during intermission, Trevor, Annie, and some other actors enter the audience, looking for a dog that Max is supposed to use while playing Arthur. They talk with the audience in character while doing this. There are plenty of other opportunities too, although the director isn't happy about it.²-->'''Chris:''' This isn't a pantomime!\²'''Audience:''' Yes it is!²* BadBadActing: The cast of ''The Murder at Haversham Manor'' is equally split between LargeHam and this trope.²* BookcasePassage: Used to shuffle actors around.²* BringTheAnchorAlong: During the climax, Dennis--who is playing Perkins--is handcuffed to the chaise-longue. He is supposed to be released when Perkins' innocence is established, but this being [[TheShowMustGoWrong the play that goes wrong]], they have lost the handcuff keys. Dennis struggles through the rest of the scene carrying the chaise-longue.²* BrokenRecord: When a character ends up forgetting his next line, the other characters begin to loop their dialogue (Causing one of the actors to repeatedly drink the White Spirit that he keeps spitting out).²* BrickJoke: Various actions often have hilarious repercussions later in the production. Max pulls a large book out from behind a pillow on the chaise-longue and shoves it underneath the furniture so that he can sit comfortably; half an act later, Chris panics when he can't find it, and [[BreakingTheFourthWall breaks the fourth wall]] to scream at the audience members trying to help.²* ByWallThatIsHoley: When the entire set collapses in the final act, the back flat falls around Annie, leaving her standing in the gap of the window. ²* CatFight: One erupts between Sandra and Annie when Sandra returns midway through Act 2 and attempts to take her part back from Annie.²* ClosetShuffle: Used with a giant clock used to store actors and crew inside.²* CopiouslyCreditedCreator: Chris, the star of the show, fills many of the credits of the InUniverse program before the real program begins.²* CouldntFindALighter: Dennis, as Perkins, accidentally causes a small fire when he tries to light a cigarette from the fireplace. Later on, another cast member tries to put it out with a fire extinguisher, but it already went out, so one of the actors is sprayed as a result.²* CouldntFindAPen: Due to various props being misplaced, Chris (as the Inspector) is unable to find his notebook or pen and is reduced to attempting to take notes on a vase with a key.²* CueCardPause: When Annie gets shoved on to stage to take Sandra's place, she is reading her lines from the script. At one point, she stops mid-sentence, leaving her cast mates baffled. Robert then reaches out and turns over the script's page, and Annie realizes that there is more and launches into the second part of her speech.²* CulturalTranslation: The White Sprit in the UK production is referred to as Paint Thinner in the US production. [[note]]Paint thinner is the general term for White Spirit.[[/note]]²* DetectiveMole: Inspector Carter is revealed to be this in the PlayWithinAPlay. Of course, by the time this revelation is made, absolutely no one cares about the plot of the play anymore. (It doesn't help that Jonathan has jumped his cue to rush onstage with a gun yelling "Not so fast, Inspector!" ''twice'' by this point, which kind of spoils TheReveal.)²** In the Broadway production, the audience tends to cheer this reveal anyway, much to Jonathan's surprise and relief.²* DisappearingBox: This trick is performed in reverse when Sandra manages to appear ''inside'' the grandfather clock after having been struggling with Annie to get back onstage only seconds beforehand.²* TheDoorSlamsYou: Happens to Sandra, the actress playing the FemmeFatale (and her impromptu replacements).²* DramaticIrony: InUniverse. The characters within the story have to act like nothing is wrong, but both the actors and the audience are aware of the various screw-ups that have unfolded.²* ExtremelyShortTimespan: For obvious reasons, the events of the play unfold in real time.²* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: It's a play, and it goes wrong.²* FallingChandelierOfDoom: Most of the set comes apart at the seams, but the play keeps this trick in reserve until the last five seconds, with the lights going out mid-"fall".²* {{Foreshadowing}}:²** While they examine Charles Haversham's body, the characters all comment on how lifelike it seems, foreshadowing the fact that he is not, in fact, dead. Pity the actor gets a coughing fit from the powder someone just dropped on him.²** In the Playbill in the Broadway version, there's a note from Chris, who states he thinks the production will "bring the house down." Sure enough, the set collapses near the end of the play.²* GoofyPrintUnderwear: Sandra spends much of Act 2 running around in a shift and printed panties, after Annie is given her dress and her role.²* HeroicBSOD: Chris/the Inspector has this when he's unable to find the prop he needs, Max having moved it after accidentally sitting on it. He repeats "a ledger?" over and over as he looks for until he's screaming, then curls up on the couch sobbing. [[AudienceParticipation The audience]] pointing out said ledger is sticking out from under the couch does not help. (Especially since it's technically a chaise-longue.)²* InadvertentEntranceCue: Jonathan twice jumps his entrance cue (including once doing it in the wrong ''act'') to rush onstage with a gun yelling, "Not so fast, Inspector!"²* IncestIsRelative: At one point Annie drops her script and the pages go flying. When she picks them back up, she gets them in the wrong order, which leads to this gem:²-->'''Annie/Florence:''' Kiss me a thousand times, I'm yours!\²''[beat]''\²'''Robert/Thomas:''' ''[looking pained]'' Of course, Florence, that's what brothers are for.²* InsistentTerminology: When the audience points out that the ledger is under the couch, Chris will angrily (and tearfully) say that it's a ''chaise-longue''.²-->'''Chris:''' ''[in the Broadway production]'' Bloody Americans!²* {{Irony}}: A lot of the dialogue becomes humorous when the condition of the actor contrasts with what ends up being said.²* IsThisThingStillOn: Act 2 begins with Trevor broadcasting some disparaging remarks about the play across the theatre before Chris desperately signals him to turn off his headset.²-->'''Trevor:''' Nah, it ain't going very well, actually. ''[beat, laughs]'' Yeah, she's still unconscious.²* ItIsPronouncedTropay: Dennis keeps mispronouncing works, such as calling cyanide "ky-a-need-e".²* LadyNotAppearingInThisGame: On the posters outside of the theater in the Broadway production, one includes headshots of the cast and one of Creator/LeonardoDiCaprio. A caption on the image reads "Not appearing Monday through Sunday". [[note]] [[DontExplainTheJoke Which means he never appears at all.]] [[/note]]²* LargeHam: Half the cast. The other half favour BadBadActing.²* {{Malaproper}}: Dennis, who plays Perkins the Butler, can't say some of his words correctly, despite having written them on his hand.²* MilkingTheGiantCow: Some of the cast have a tendency to indulge in this, with Max and Sandra being the worst offenders.²* NoodleIncident: The various previous plays that are mentioned, though the titles give us some idea what had occurred.²* PlayWithinAPlay: ''The Murder at Haversham Manor''²* PushedInFrontOfTheAudience: When Sandra gets knocked out in a TheDoorSlamsYou incident, Annie the stage manager is hurriedly dressed in Sandra's dress and shoved out on stage with a script in her hand. And when ''she'' gets knocked out, Trevor the effects manager is press-ganged into the role. ²* RakeTake: Some floorboards are reinstalled before the show starts, one of them is stepped on by an actor, hitting them in the face.²* ReadingTheStageDirectionsOutLoud:²** When the female lead Sandra is knocked out, the stage manager Annie is shoved on to the stage with a copy of the script to take her place. Needless to say, she starts reading the stage directions out loud, and ends Act 1 by shouting "Blackout! Intermission!"²** Dennis declares that his character Perkins is going to "the library! Exits!" at one point, and then stands there posing until his error occurs to him.²* RunningGag: Plenty, including a missing Music/DuranDuran CD, the dog that was supposed to be used in the production being missing, the actors accidentally drinking white spirits (and subsequently performing a SpitTake), Max crashing into the support beam, various set pieces falling down, Max grinning out at the audience, Dennis mispronouncing words, and the actors playing the character of Florence getting knocked unconscious by set pieces (usually {{the door|SlamsYou}}).²* RuleOfThree: ²** The DoorSlamsYou gag. The first time, it knocks out Sandra. The second time, it gets Annie. The ''third'' time, Annie catches it and slams it back shut (with an angry Sandra behind it, although she mysteriously pops out of the locked clock seconds later, having apparently teleported past the door).²** Thomas (Robert) keeps asking Trevor for a line, and Trevor keeps not responding and saying something else snarky or off-hand instead. The first two times, Thomas repeats the snark word-for-word before realizing it's not his line; the third time he cottons on first.²** TheReveal of ''The Murder at Haversham Manor'' is inadvertently ruined twice by Jonathan rushing on stage and shouting, "Not so fast, Inspector!" before his cue. He gets it right the third time around.²** Trevor starts the show asking if anyone's seen a Duran Duran CD. He later accidentally plays the music as a cue, letting the audience know he found it. At the play's climax, when everyone is at their wit's end, Robert pulls the play-within-a-play's evidence out of a handbag, including "One ticket to '''''DURAN DURAN!'''''" holding up the CD case as everyone looks up at a facepalming Trevor.²* SlapstickKnowsNoGender: Adjusting for the ratio of women to men, the female characters get just as beat up by the set (and each other) as the guys do.²* SpitTake: The first time one of the cast takes a swig of white spirit instead of whiskey (and multiple times thereafter).²* StylisticSuck: ZigZagged. While the acting and the sets are problematic, the plot actually makes cohesive sense.²* TheShowMustGoOn: Say what you like about the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, but they don't give up and will finish their play, come what may.²* TheShowMustGoWrong: The play is built entirely around this; according to what we hear about the in-universe group, their shows are generally absolute catastrophes. BadBadActing, mislaid props, miscued sound effects and actors coming on too early are only the ''start'' of it. And if Chris (the Director and the Inspector) is to be believed, this ''isn't'' the worst it's ever been.²* TapOnTheHead: Sandra and the two crew members who are knocked unconscious at various points seem to recover just fine.²* TitleDrop: Jonathan caps off TheSummation at the end by declaring his hope that "there will never be another murder at Haversham Manor." Of course, this can barely be heard over the other actors' bickering, the set completing its collapse, and Trevor playing his Duran Duran.²* TookTheBadFilmSeriously: In-universe example with Chris; the cast list implies that he's the only one with theater experience, and it's clear that he's desperately trying to salvage the play.²* TrashTheSet: The set slowly falls apart over the course of the show, with the whole thing finally collapsing during the climax. This escalates throughout the show--at first it's only the decorations, but then the stage parts begin to fall apart. In fact, after intermission, they attempt to fix the damage, [[AllForNothing only for the decorations to fall right back off again]], at which point they give up.²* TheVamp: The character of Florence; Sandra turns it up to eleven by playing even her "hysterical episodes" seductively. It goes even past that when Trevor, forced to read Florence's lines, starts fake-grinding on the Inspector as a "hysterical episode".²* VisualPun: When Thomas is asked to remove the fainted Florence's hands from her face, Florence is currently represented by a giant clock (because Sandra is trapped inside it). [[DontExplainTheJoke Robert pulls the hour and minute hands off the face of the clock.]]²----


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: