As you enter the theater there is a beautiful set of classic wood and burgundy tapestries. A big grand father clock and a chaise lounge are center stage center. On the right is a duplex set of two rooms , a library room , and a parlor. There are double doors that leads to an elevator which travels from the first floor to the second. On the left side of the stage is an open door leading to a passage way. A fireplace and a small wooden table with a bouquet of red roses and an antique telephone sits left. There is very dramatic orchestral music being pumped into the theater. Actors dressed like stage staff move around the theater and set as the audience enters and takes it’s seats. There is funny business going on between two actors and the set door and fireplace. The lights darken in the theater and we are off.
The lights on stage come down and a man walks into a spotlight; sort of. He is the” Director” ( HENRY SHIELDS) of the “play” we are going to see tonight: THE MURDER AT HAVERSHAM MANOR. This let’s us know this whole, play ( THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG) is a play within a play. A murder mystery and of course as in any good murder mystery we start with a murder. The lights come up and Charles Haversham ( GREG TANNAHILL) is lying dead on the chaise lounge. He is discovered by the butler Perkins ( JONATHAN SAYER) and Florence Colleymoore (CHARLIE RUSSELL) his fiancé and her brother Thomas Colleymoore ( HENRY LEWIS) and Cecil Haversham ( DAVE HEARN) his brother. They call Inspector Carter ( HENRY SHIELDS) to investigate the murder. Before the Inspector ( HENRY SHIELDS) can arrive, Florence Colleymoore ( CHARLIE RUSSELL) and Cecil Haversham ( DAVE HEARN) confess to themselves and the audience that they are secretly in love and may be the number one suspects in Charles Haversham’s ( GREG TANNAHILL) murder. During the investigation Cecil Haversham ( DAVE HEARN) is mysteriously shot three times in the same room as his brother; who was poisoned. The Inspector ( HENRY SHIELDS) finds a ledger with a new Last Will and Testament of Charles Haversham ( GREG TANNAHILL) and it points to another suspect in the murder mystery: Perkins ( JONATHAN SAYER) !!! What is clear is that whomever killed both Charles ( GREG TANNAHILL) and Cecil Haversham ( DAVE HEARN) is still in the room, da da da doom!!!
This whole production can be summed up in two words: BRILLANTLY HILARIOUS!!!. It is too incredible to be called a Farce. It uses every old trick in the book and invents a whole new book to play from as well. It is a satire and smart, smart send up on period dramas. They turn the murder mystery on it’s head and takes comedy to new heights. You will not have a better time on Broadway than this piece. The actors have laser concentration moving from moment to moment without breaking character or losing their place. Lines are said in the wrong places and orders and cues are taken too slow or too fast , if at all. The play within a play moves backwards as well as forwards and anything in between. T he writers ( HENRY LEWIS, JONATHAN SAYER and HENRY SHIELDS )really deserve a major Tony for Best Original Script in the category of Musical or Comedy. The actors BOB FALCONER, HENRY SHIELDS, GREG TANNAHILL, HENRY LEWIS, JONATHAN SAYER, CHARLIE RUSSELL, DAVE HEARN AND BRYONY CORRIGAN will all surely receive nominations as well but will sadly be competing against themselves. Run, slip on a Banana peel and slide right into a seat at the Lyceum Theatre. THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG GETS IT ALL SO RIGHT!!!!!