REVIEW: The Play That Goes Wrong, Chichester Festival Theatre, until January 14.

The Play That Goes Wrong
The Play That Goes Wrong

Of course, the irony is that you have to be brilliant to be so awful.

And the cast of the Play That Goes Wrong are certainly both in the perfect send-up of amdram efforts everywhere.

Just as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong doesn’t hesitate to do so, from wonky props to forgotten lines, from mistimed entrances to jammed doors and collapsing sets.

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on a 1920s murder mystery, but the theatrical gods are against them. Director Mark Bell orchestrates complete chaos to perfection in a relentless succession of on- and off-stage disasters.

Curiously, though, if you saw it in Southampton last year, you’ll come away from Chichester with the feeling that it’s a show which works so much better on a proscenium arch stage.

To connect with their wonderfully-shaky set the actors are thrust so much to the back of the CFT’s thrust stage that there’s a vast empty no man’s land between them and us – and we simply don’t get the connection that made it all so special at the Mayflower.

It’s probably worth catching up with it again in Brighton and Portsmouth in August and September this year.

But even if it’s a production which turns Chichester’s stage advantages into limitations, The Play That Goes Wrong remains the perfect January lift – a first-class cast working superbly together to bring us total comedy mayhem.