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ANC’s The Play That Goes Wrong

A riotous “disasterpiece”

For a Play That Goes Wrong, Academy of the New Church got a whole lot right. The farcical production, with its misplaced props, missed and mispronounced lines, and unplanned on-stage brawls, was a delightful disaster.

Following the fictional Cornley Players as they attempt to pull off “the Murder of Haversham Manor,” the performance is intended to be catastrophically awful from start to finish. Opening with a shock, the mysterious murder of Charles Haversham precipitates an investigation by “Chris” as Inspector Carter. 

As the night unfolds, secrets are revealed, often prematurely, leading eventually to some astonishing realizations. Still, nothing is more astonishing than the “cast” and “crew’s” ability to mess up every aspect of the production.

Masterfully failing in every way imaginable, ANC’s production was comedic gold. Three different casts, including an improv crew, that rushed the stage as lost “Swifties,” combined naturally, drawing an endless stream of laughter. 

ANC’s technical prowess was on full display as well, with impressive set design and a talented run crew ensuring that by the show’s conclusion, seemingly everything had fallen apart.

As Chris and the Director of Murder of Haversham Manor, Markus Bryntesson modeled pure irritation, which turned to unbridled rage. Along with his work as the confounded Chris, Bryntesson did an excellent job setting the tone for what would follow in his introduction, using clever comedic delivery to recap the unfortunate Cornley Players’ shows of the past.

ANC’s biggest strength came in its numbers and the sheer depth of its comedic brilliance. Maggie Dooley as Annie the stage manager was ready to step, unenthusiastically, into the spotlight, covering for Aurelia Sullivan’s Sandra in the role of Florence Collymore after an unfortunate encounter with a swinging door. Coming to her senses, Sullivan’s return to the stage led to a hilarious battle of the Florences, raging frantically  throughout the final act. 

The Cornley Player Improv Crew did a fantastic job keeping the show’s energy levels high, running their skits through intermission, never ceasing to amuse. Finally, the Cornley Player’s Stage Crew added immensely to the play without making a sound, serving as mantel pieces and falling through locked doors in perfect sync.

The Play That Goes Wrong was technically fabulous. Designing what is at first a charming set, the incredible detail of ANC’s Stage Craft Class is revealed throughout the show, with collapsing walls, hidden doors, and a fallen portrait, hand painted by students. Expert calling from stage manager Grace Childs ensured flawless timing while the real crew dismantled Haversham Manor smoothly making sure that no actors were harmed in the stage’s collapse.

With every spectacular failure, ANC gained momentum, piling on one calamitous mistake after another. Ultimately, Haversham Manor fell away completely, overwhelmed by raucous laughter.

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