Review: 'The Play That Goes Wrong', slapstick comedy all too rare in Hong Kong

by Trevor Bailey

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If you missed “The Play That Goes Wrong”, hard luck, but don’t despair. Brought to Hong Kong by home-grown Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, it finishes today after a short run at the Academy for Performing Arts. The slapstick comedy, full of mad accidents, collapsing sets and daft actors falling about, is being staged in multiple countries this year, so you may still be able to catch it.
See it with a child if you can, at a matinee performance. We were lucky to sit two rows in front of a little girl. Every time something violently comical happened on stage she shrieked. This just added to the humour.
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Photo: TimeOut

Even before the show while punters where waiting outside the Lyric Theatre, manic things started happening. A tall character with an aquiline nose who looked like a deranged circus ringmaster ran madly about amongst the crowd, yelling, “Where’s the dog! Where’s Winston!” Another bloke, all in black, bearded in ripped clothes and chains, glowed at theatregoers menacingly, “Where’s Winston? Is it all your fault?” People looked nervous then started grinning when they realised he was a cast member. Winston appears only in the show as a doggie portrait on a wall and is alleged to be the father of one of the (human-looking) characters.
Two actors stand out for their performances. The dark-skinned murder victim who is cruelly treated by others in the cast as he lies dead, some how to survive and entertain with acrobatic falling-about that has the audience clapping. Another character does crazy stickman dancing that always ends with a retard buck-teeth grin directed at the audience, who crack up each time.
Lunchbox Theatrical Productions was created in Hong Kong by James Cundall and business friends. They have built a huge success and Lunchbox now also has companies in UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Philippines.
If you have seen the movie, you won’t miss their next big Hong Kong production, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.
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