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Concert Reviews:
Hilarious "Wrong" gets everything right at the Fisher Theatre
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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It's this simple; "The Play That Goes Wrong" gets everything right.



The comedy, running through Feb. 24 at the Fisher Theatre, is nothing short of a masterwork, a laugh-a-second farce about the hapless fictional Cornley University Drama Society and the myriad mishaps in its production of "The Murder at Haversham Manor." With more premise than plot, the physically demanding play lets its eight-person cast romp through any kind of snafu you can think of -- and a good many you can't even imagine -- from falling stage plots to blown lines to mispronounced words and random snippets of Duran Duran songs mistakenly played at key moments.



It would be unwise to spoil the specifics -- just rest assured that if "Wrong" was treated as a drinking game, with a shot for ever goof portrayed on stage, every audience member would be past any legal measure of inebriation within the first two minutes. And that's not at all an exaggeration.



The script by British playwrights Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields is fabulous, but what really makes "Wrong" work is the company on stage -- including a pair of techs who make occasional appearances and take deserved bows with the rest of the cast at the end. The play calls for a kind of duality between the parts in the murder mystery the Cornley crew is performing and the characters of the actors themselves, and everyone in the production handles that to perfection -- to the point where it's as unfair to single out individual performances as it would be to give away the details of all the things that go wrong.



That said, Ned Noyes is a hoot as the female-averse Max Bennett, who supersedes his "Haversham" character Cecil Haversham early in the play. Evan Alexander Smith as Cornley chief Chris Bean -- star and director of "Haversham," of course -- addresses the audience a few times during the show, even lashing out at it for laughing ("They wouldn't do that in Windsor!"). And Yaegel T. Welch as Jonathan Harris/Charles Haversham shines even without speaking a line until the last few minutes of the play, and Jamie Ann Ramero (Sandra Wilkinson/Florence Colleymoore) executes some inexplicably adept physical stunts.



The "Wrong" magic extends beyond the formal confines of the play as well. The Brandon J. Ellis as Cornley's Duran Duran-loving tech Trevor Watson engages in some pre-show banter with the audience, while Smith, as Bean, chases a couple of cast members out of the lobby, where they're in the refreshment line. Even the Playbill is part of the act, with biographies of the fictional characters and a witty welcoming letter from Bean.



So "Wrong" gets you from the moment you walk in and leaves you laughing to its chaotic conclusion. There may be "better" nights at the theater in a more formal sense, but it's hard to imagine any that can be more fun than this.



"The Play That Goes Wrong" runs Feb. 12-24 at the Fisher Theatre 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit. $44 and up. 313-872-1000 or broadwayindetroit.com.

Web Site: www.broadwyindetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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