Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

April 22, 2024

Review: Majestic Theater, "The Play That Goes Wrong"

Majestic Theater, West Springfield, MA
through June 2, 2024
by Lisa Covi

Laughter billowed from the Majestic Theater for a solid 2 hours during the performance of “The Play That Goes Wrong.” Described as a cross between Monty Python and Sherlock Holmes, this play within a play depicts a community production of “The Murder at Haversham Manor.” 

Photo by Kait Rankins
The farce begins before the lights go down as two "crew members" place/misplace props and
make last minute repairs to the mantle, grandfather clock, and lighting. As these preparations extend, the audience starts to realize that the game's afoot. Chris Bean (Jack Grigoli), the character who plays the director and stars as Inspector Carter, provides a brief introduction to the play. As each character takes the stage, they valiantly perform though the mistakes of the actors, production, and literal collapse of the elaborate set.

The Majestic's cast includes actors familiar and new to their theater. These polished performers not only have the talent for timing and physical comedy – no small feat that includes scaling a bookshelf to a loft action-area, but also the chemistry with other players that allow audience members to believe  that those on stage are community members struggling to keep the play going.

Two examples are Mariko Iwasa's Annie, a gifted mime who projects earnestness as both a tech and understudy; and Shaun O'Keefe's Robert, who scrambles about the set convincingly while accusing and denying his character's role in the murder investigation.

The design of the set is ingenious to fail so consistency and convincingly without truly injuring the actors.

“The Play that Goes Wrong” gets it right for diverting and entertaining. Even if absurdist comedy is not your cup of tea, those seated in the theater will immediately become caught up in the visual surprises, performative flourishes, or plot twists that ensue. There are a few blind spots for the patrons -- on the left and right sides of the stage that obscure some key action areas, so the best seats are in the middle. This kind of production is particularly suited to multiple viewings as the staging and special effects are a delight to behold. Be prepared to giggle, hoot, and guffaw in the best aspects of live theater.