Over the weekend, I went to see the British farce The Play That Goes Wrong. It's presented as if it's an amateur company putting on a murder mystery, and everything that can possibly go wrong does. The show is very thin -- the storyline is this is dismal drawing room mystery -- but a lot of fun. Oddly, I didn't laugh much (though the audience was in hysterics), yet I enjoyed it, greatly admiring the non-stop inventiveness of the stagecraft. (At one point, for instance, the lead actress gets knocked out, so the female stage manager has to take over carrying around the script. Then she gets knocked out -- and the regular actress has recovered enough to jump back in...but when the stage manger recovers she wants back in the place, so the two women stay on stage the rest of the evening competing with one another in the role. Believe it or not, it's even more convoluted than that, but it would be too much to describe...)
I also liked that they carry the concept into the Playbill – with double credits: one for the show, but also one for the 3rd-rate show within the show. So, they have a title page for that show with its fictitious production credits (most of which are the same person in charge of almost everything), and also bios for everyone in the cast, which are quite amusing. My favorite line was subtle, but wonderful – “Robert’s next performance will be as Godot in a newly self-written sequel to Beckett’s classic.”
Normally, I'd post a trailer of the production, which I was loathe to do with this particular play since I doubted it would give a sense of the evening. As luck would happen, at the 2015 Royal Variety Performance they performed almost 10 full minutes from the opening of the play! It's somewhat edited -- for example, when they knock on the door to come in, it's jammed, and for a minute or so they can't get on stage, until eventually the actors sneak on from around the wings. That's left out here, along with some other stage business and dialogue. But for the most part, it's all intact. Also, know that the play gets even more manic in the third act. This is just the "slow" set-up. And because the audience isn't there for the show, but rather for the Royal Variety eveyt, they don't get some of the gags going on, but overall it's a pretty good presentation of what takes place during the production. One final note -- only for the Royal Variety Performance there are several cameos that are not part of the actual show. But you'll see brief gags with Kylie Minogue, Josh Groban and a British comedian/actor I like, Jack Whitehall, who drops "snow flakes" at the end..
Moving on to other theater --
Two years ago, I wrote here about going to a play at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. This is a wonderful outdoor venue in the forest around Topanga that was the home of the actor who, among many things, most famously played the grandfather on The Waltons.
There were two shows in their repertory season that interested me, but didn’t know if I wanted to make what is a bit of a drive twice – however I found that there was a Saturday both were being put on, one at 4 PM, the other at 8 PM, so I made a sack dinner and went to see them together, a couple weekends ago.
Note: I don't recommend this unless you have a seat cushion or perhaps one of those portable seat-backs that you can place on a bench. It was okay without either, but at the end of a long day sitting on what's basically a bench, I was nearly my comfort limit.
I don't have a video of their production of either, but did track down a video from the Acting Company of Moby Dick: Rehearsed.
(Side Note: As it happens, I saw one of their plays in their first year of existence, at the Ravinia Music Festival, where they were in repertory. The Acting Company began life as the first graduating class of the Julliard acting school. The program's director -- and initial artistic director of the Acting Company -- was John Houseman, who -- to take this full circle -- had been partners with Orson Welles. And for that matter, Will Geer worked with Welles. Last Fun Fact: the show I saw that Acting Company do was the musical The Robber Bridegroom. It starred two graduates -- Patti LuPone and Kevin Kline. They are not in this video, which is from only a decade ago.)