When the star of a play is the set, one must rely on a cast that supports that set as well as top-of-the-line scenic designers. The company of Palo Alto Players’ recently-closed The Play That Goes Wrong fulfilled both en route to achieving a highly entertaining, raucous production of the Tony-winning comedy (the Tony having been awarded for, of course, Best Scenic Design of a Play). What designers Patrick Klein and Kevin Davies accomplished with their work was a set that both housed and enthusiastically “injured” the knock-out cast with genuine allure and detail. With solid direction by Katie O’Bryon Champlin, the company of …Wrong hit all the right moments to make this show a triumph for Palo Alto Players.
The play-within-the-play is the company of Cornley Drama Society presenting their production of The Murder at Haversham Manor, complete with a multitude of miscues and set-centered destruction that it’s a miracle the acting company and stage management even make it through the show! The genius behind the play within the play is that the timing between bit and plot are well-spaced so the audience knows what’s going on (not that it matters all that much) while enjoying the next opportunity for laughs, which is constant and consistent. Bradley Satterwhite, as company manager and main detective Chris Bean, led the company with aplomb and straight-comic reaction, which gave his supporting cast of clowns loads to play off. Braden Taylor was a delight as the male love interest, Max, where every bit garners a take to the audience for approval, and his chemistry opposite Michelle Skinner’s one-note Sandra was filled with genuine urgency and humor-filled blocking. Skinner made the ditsy ingénue diva a joy to watch, replete with some of the best injury-based bits, staged expertly by fight/fall consultant, Dexter Fidler.
Kyle Dayrit provided a stellar performance as the boisterous Robert, brother to the fiancé of the assumed murdered character. Dayrit carried a bulk of the physical comedy alongside Satterwhite and Skinner and did so with guffaw-inducing reactions. Drew Benjamin Jones delivered a master class of a few bits going far as Jonathan, the assumed deceased. Jones, without mugging, gave a long-game performance for one of the best jokes to land with precision and applause. Encompassing the show, however, was the masterly design by the aforementioned Klein and Davies, whose set was fantastic. Not enough attention to detail can be paid to ensure the audience laughs at the slapstick comedy the cast endures, and these two designers should know the applause at bows wasn’t just for the great cast but for the design as well. A pleasure was had at Haversham Manor and many bravos and bravas to the cast, crew, and team for Palo Alto Players’ production of The Play That Goes Wrong.