The overall concept is a brilliant one. A traditional production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest has just begun. It all goes well for about five minutes… until the play’s leading man does not show up for his grand entrance.
Pretty much everything you'd expect
What on Earth is a stressed director to do? Ah, of course, the only possible solution is to select an audience member to fill in – obviously!
This production delivers pretty much everything you’d expect, which to some may be a very good thing, but to me, I felt I’d seen a lot of the gags before, and the various set-ups had fairly obvious outcomes which unfortunately left me cold.
I also spent the entire rest of the play trying to work out if the audience-volunteers were in fact planted there. Perhaps I was unlucky in that the (eventually) seven members of the public that overtook the cast happened to be conveniently English-speakers, well-behaved, articulate, and never flapped about in a panic or laughed their heads off. They were also conveniently devoid of whooping, cheering friends in the auditorium, and all their 'mistakes' were conveniently free from swearing. They all managed to say exactly the right 'wrong' thing and the actors always had exactly the right response. But like I say, perhaps I was just unlucky.
I will say this, though: the rest of the audience was absolutely loving it.
And I certainly can’t deny that the cast was on excellent form. All of them deliver a high-quality act and work very well together. I particularly enjoyed the increasingly chaotic performance of Trynity Silk as Gwendolyn, Rhys Tees as the poor, overworked Lane/Chasuble/Prism/Merriman, and Guido Garcia Lueches as a rigid Algernon who refuses to adapt his performance to the many changes around him.
If you’re a fan of The Play that Goes Wrong, then you can expect pretty much the same thing here.