Reviewed by Kim Bickerbike
The Liverpool Empire is a charming and intimate traditional theatre situated next to Liverpool Lime Street train station. For those travelling by car there is a car park called Queen Square car park within a 5 minute walk and costs £5 after 5pm, it couldn’t be more conveniently located
We took to our seats 15 minutes before the show began and the theatre was packed. The crew were still working on putting the set together and, well let’s just say it wasn’t quite going to plan, so a member of the audience was drafted in to ‘help’. The audience was in fits of laughter as the set was haphazardly erected and the audience member got a huge cheer for his efforts. I would recommend getting there early as you don’t want to miss out on the hilarious pre-show entertainment.
The production began with an introduction from Inspector Carter (played by Chris Bean) who presented the production ‘Murder At Haversham Manor’. This was a typically British play set in the 1920s and is a murder mystery with a whodunit storyline. The cast comprises of 7 characters who are all suspects. Charles Haversham (played by Jonathan Harris) is murdered at his engagement party and Inspector Carter is called in to try and solve the murder. The acting in the opening scene is nothing short of hilarious, even before the first line was spoken, the crowd was roaring with laugher, what could go wrong, did go wrong. Lighting was pointed in the wrong direction, actors were in the incorrect position, lines were muddled up or forgotten and props were either in the wrong place or not assembled properly, the culmination of these ‘errors’ led to a side-splitting performance.
Inspector Carter interviews each character and as the show progresses more and more things go wrong. At one point, Florence Collymore (played by Sandra Wilkinson) who is Charles’ fiancée gets ‘knocked out’ and is no longer able to continue with the performance. Annie (played by Louisa Sexton) is called upon to take over the role of Florence. Louisa’s performance is superb, and her comedy timing is brilliant. Florence soon recovers and is ready to resume her role, but Annie has developed a taste for the stage and is not giving up her new position without a fight – literally! The two of them both grapple for the limelight and do whatever it takes to get the number one spot. This tussle between the two actresses is the highlight of the show for me, their performance is outstanding and they both execute it with such ease. They are 2 very gifted actresses.
The other characters, Thomas Collymore (played by Robert Grove) who is Florence’s brother, Perkins (played by Dennis Tyde) Charles’ trusted butler and Cecil Haversham (played by Max Bennett) Charles’ brother are all suspects in the murder too. Each actor embodies their character fantastically, Cecil plays up to the audience and his numerous rounds of applause are all well-deserved, Thomas spends the majority of the show propping the set up whilst trying to take a telephone call from his accountant. Roberts’s performance in this role is excellent and I have never seen an actor show such physical strength, agility and comedy timing at the same, a truly talented actor. Perkins is the typical British butler, he is forgetful, bumbling and witty. Dennis owns this role and delivers a convincing and funny performance
The crew also play a pivotal role in this production, I have never seen the crew included in a performance before and the way they have been written in is genius!
The set design is clever, the cast are skilled and energetic, the writing of the show is ingenious, I have never seen a show like it and I could watch it over and over again. It is a good old fashioned clean comedy and I can’t recommend highly enough, I haven’t laughed so hard for such a long time and if I could give it more than 5 stars I would!
Tickets cost from £13 to £35 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
The Play That Goes Wrong is at the Liverpool Empire from 9-14 July 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/liverpool or call the box office on 0844 8713017.
Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE | 0844 8713017