A mishap or two can happen in a show. There may be a slight delay in an actor’s entrance, or a slip up on a line and then you’ll probably get a snigger from the audience. It’s understandable that we get a little light-relief from a comical mistake, but this show is a lot more than just schadenfreude. What Mischief Theatre have put together is a chaotic concoction of the most terrible onstage misfortunes. All for your pleasure.
The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are staging a 1920’s murder mystery play, and are hoping that after years of underwhelming productions, this time they get it right. As you may have guessed, they definitely do not. Falling set pieces, haphazard actors and an incompetent crew deliver a laugh a minute (or more like every twenty seconds). When you think it can’t get worse, it does. Where you think you’ve had your giggle, a tear-inducing cackle is coming up next.
Frantic and chaotic as it may seem, the precision and expert timing of the cast and crew is what pulls this whole façade off. The technical aspects are as fast paced as the humour, making it all the more impressive when the pandemonium ensues.
With highs of absolute hilarity, the script cleverly leaves room for fits of laughter as the plot continues on. But not all the strength is in the writing, as the flawless performances of the eight person cast lift this show to its success.
Beth Lilly and Gabriel Paul are the ones to welcome the audience into the madness, shouting around the auditorium for lost CD’s and a lost Winston (the dog). Their roles in the backstage don’t last for long, and the peak of amusement comes when they thrive in the audience’s reaction.
Another who plays on the laughs, is Edi de Melo as Max. His character cheekily overacts monologues, somersaults across the set and revels in the audience’s adoration, which de Melo definitely deserves.
Opposing the audience, and at times scolding them, is the leader of the cast, Chris (played by Colin Burnicle). Perhaps it says a lot about me that most of my laughs came from watching him suffer. His spirited, sophisticated front deteriorates, and his sighs and breakdowns were played out to roaring laughter.
You’d think that the murder victim would have the least to do in a play, however Steven Rostance keeps returning for comic early entrances. His “dead body” scene is the true kickstart to the merriment and an absolute joy to see.
Assured Robert (Kazeem Tosin Amore) has moments of outstanding physical comedy that left me gasping for air. Robert’s confidence is diminished by the end, but this portrayal is consistently bringing in the laughs. Narcissistic Sandra (Aisha Numah) and nervous Dennis (Damien James) hit every beat with exquisite comic timing, rounding out a wonderful cast.
To deliver every joke, hit each mark, time every prop interaction to within a millisecond… it seems inconceivable. I cannot begin to imagine how long it has taken to get to this point of perfection, which speaks a whole lot to the team’s dedication and craft.
You cannot ask for more from this hysterical masterpiece of comedy. It has the audience gripped with every trip and turn, and I definitely wouldn’t mind a little more “Mischief” in my life.
Reviewer: Coral Mourant
Reviewed: 28th April 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★