Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

The Play That Goes Wrong
1812 Productions
Review by Rebecca Rendell

Also see Rebecca's recent review of Galilee

Ian Peakes, Karen Peakes, Justin Jain,
and Tony Lawton

Photo by Mark Garvin
I recently caught the end of 1812 Productions' professional regional premiere of The Play That Goes Wrong at the Plays & Players Theatre. This flawlessly executed comedy featured some of the funniest actors in Philadelphia and made me giggle so hard I could hardly breathe. Thanks to Jennifer Childs' precision direction and an epic ensemble, the laughs started before house lights went down and kept coming until the curtain call.

This classic farce with a modern attitude takes place on opening night at the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society. The amateur theatre company is putting on an unusually well-funded production of The Murder at Haversham Manor. Things start to go wrong, right from the start. A door onto the stage won't open, the unconvincing corpse keeps moving about, and none of the props are where they should be. Things rapidly and hilariously go from bad to worse. Before long, the set is literally falling down and something that looks suspiciously like smoke is billowing from the wings. Each disastrous moment is uproarious.

Every member of the ensemble was fantastically funny. Karen Peakes' dramatic readings and compelling prat-falls were risible. Ian Peaks was impossibly amusing whether his character was dead or alive. Although he seemed to suffer for his art, Scott Greer was side-splittingly hilarious, drinking the grossest water or holding on for dear life while the set fell out from under him. I do not want to say too much, but Colin McIlvaine's ingenious scenic designs were so convincing it was scary. Sets are always vital to the success of a farce and McIlvaine's were some of the best I have ever seen. I wish I could go back and see it all over again.

1812 Productions' The Play That Goes Wrong ran April 27 - May 21, 2023, at the Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey St, Philadelphia PA. For more information, please visit

Scott Greer: Robert/Thomas
Melanie Cotton: Annie
Tony Lawton: Chris/Inspector Carter
Sean Close: Dennis/Perkins
Justin Jain: Max/Cecil/Arthur
Eli Lynn: Trevor
Karen Peakes: Sandra/Florence
Ian Peakes: Jonathan/Charles

Jennifer Childs: Director
Janus Stefanowicz: Costume Designer
Alyssandra Docherty: Lighting Designer
Liz McDonald: Props Designer
Colin McIlvaine: Scenic Designer
Damien Figueras: Sound Designer