Broadway Review: ‘The Play That Goes Wrong,’ Produced by J.J. Abrams

 Alastair Muir

Alastair Muir

The show must go on — but in the Broadway transfer of West End hit “The Play That Goes Wrong,” forgotten lines, lost props, technical gaffes and rebellious scenery all seem to reply, “Oh no it doesn’t.” This broad, silly and deliciously demented show, about a fictitious amateur theatrical group with great resilience and greater incompetency, is by the Brit trio of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields in a style that evokes “Fawlty Towers” with nods to Buster Keaton, Carol Burnett and Monty Python. Under the go-for-broke direction of Mark Bell, its high-energy cast is comic gold and manages to sustain, with a never-ending series of diversionary tactics, its one-joke concept.

The show isn’t as elegant or as clever as that other hit British show-run-amuck farce, “Noises Off!,” whose last revival was seen on the Broadway just last season. “Wrong” isn’t interested in the relationship between its characters and the ones they portray in the play-within-a-play. It’s more lowbrow, interested in the gag and shameless in how it gets it: sometimes incredibly inventively, but sometimes going for the low-hanging fruit. (A special nod goes to sound designer Andrew Johnson who created the various bonks, splats, and crashes.)

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