‘The Play That Goes Wrong’: Slapstick comedy to die for

By Stephanie Meditz

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Photo courtesy of “The Play That Goes Wrong” via Facebook.

Everyone knows the saying, “The show must go on.” 

The players in “The Play That Goes Wrong,” who power through their scenes despite a hazardous set, missing props and unconscious actresses, embody it in a way that makes audiences howl with laughter. 

Written by Jonathan Sayer, Henry Lewis and Henry Shields, the 2012 play follows the Cornley University Drama Society’s opening night of “The Murder at Haversham Manor.” 

The set, however, is incomplete and falling apart in every imaginable way. 

The play begins with a pre-show of sorts in which stage manager Annie and lighting and sound operator Trevor tinker with the set, replace floorboards, put a stubborn mantelpiece on the wall and force a perpetually open door to close. 

They even solicit an audience member onstage to hold the mantelpiece in place and the door shut while the two promptly run offstage. 

Director and serious thespian, Chris Bean (played by Chris Lanceley), then assures the audience that his directorial debut will be a treat compared to the drama society’s former productions, such as the one-man show, “Cat.” 

The play within the play, “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” begins with Charles Haversham (Chris French) lying dead on the night of his engagement party to Florence Colleymoore (Maggie Weston).

Also present are Florence’s brother and Charles’ old friend, Thomas Colleymoore (Brent Bateman), his butler, Perkins (Adam Petherbridge) and his brother, Cecil Haversham (Alex Mandell). 

Knowing that someone in the group must have committed the murder, they solicit the help of Inspector Carter to find out whodunit. 

At the start of “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” the audience sees that Annie and Trevor have won their battle with the door: it will not budge when the players try to open it. 

Not only that, Charles Haversham is extremely mobile and sentient for a corpse – he visibly inhales after Thomas declares that he is not breathing and squirms when other players step on his hand. 

When Thomas and Perkins try to carry Charles’ body offstage on a stretcher, it rips, so the two pretend to carry it while the corpse slug crawls offstage. 

The defective set and players slipping out of character are laughable evidence of a production going south, but “The Play That Goes Wrong” especially succeeds in its hilariously convincing slapstick. 

During Florence’s interrogation by Inspector Carter, Thomas throws open the now functional door, knocks Florence unconscious and schleps her body offstage. 

Arguably the funniest recurrence throughout the show, however, is the bottle of paint thinner in place of scotch. 

Since the show must go on, the players are trapped in a vicious cycle — they drink the paint thinner, spit it out and comment on the high quality of the “scotch” while visibly recovering from the blow to their mouths. 

The spit take has long been used in comedies, but it especially works in “The Play That Goes Wrong” because the players still deliver their lines after each one to pretend nothing went wrong. 

The play’s other mishaps have a similar effect — they are funnier because “The Murder at Haversham Manor” is not intended to be a comedy, so audience members must suspend their disbelief and watch it as such. 

The audience laughs when Dennis, who plays Perkins, mispronounces “cyanide” as “ky-uh-needy” precisely because he is mortified. 

After intermission, a flustered Chris Bean begs the audience to stop laughing and take his play as seriously as they would “Hamilton.”

The audience laughs on, both because of the appropriate pop culture reference and because he is still somehow taking the play seriously after its disastrous first act. 

Overall, “The Play That Goes Wrong” is as funny as it is because people like to see just how far these players will go to ensure that the show goes on. 

Or, simply put, seeing people get hurt in elaborate and unlikely ways is plain hilarious. 

The actors in “The Play That Goes Wrong” are exceptionally talented, not only because they perform this riot of a show without laughing, but because they must be locked into two separate characters. 

The actors transform into their respective members of the Cornley University Drama Society, and then they must play that actor’s role in “The Murder at Haversham Manor” in a logical way based on their traits. 

The current off-Broadway cast does a stunning job of remaining locked into their roles – the only breaks in character are written in the script. 

Alex Mandell, whose character, Max, plays Cecil Haversham and Arthur the gardener, gives an especially vibrant and interactive portrayal of a lovable fool who is just happy to be in front of an audience. 

The set is also successful in its astonishing failure — the furniture falls apart at just the right time to leave the audience laughing out of incredulity. 

This is an impressive feat by the real-life stage crew because the deliberately malfunctioning set drives the comedic timing that dictates the play’s effectiveness.

Because the successive mishaps are meticulously choreographed, “The Play That Goes Wrong” is a difficult show to put on, and the current off-Broadway run at New World Stages is an immense theatrical achievement. 

To find out who killed Charles Haversham or, more likely, to see what else can possibly go wrong, buy tickets for “The Play That Goes Wrong” here or through Telecharge. 

Before the performance, make sure to grab one of the show’s signature cocktails — just make sure it isn’t actually paint thinner.


Maria Guagenti passed away on Tuesday, August 23, 2022 at the age of 89. Beloved Wife of the late Vincenzo Guagenti. Loving Mother of Alfonso (April) Guagenti and Anthony (Amanda) Guagenti. Cherished Grandmother of Vincenzo, Massimo, Ryan and Mark. Mass of Christian Burial offered at Our Lady of Hope Church on Wednesday, August 31, 202 at 10:45 AM. Entombment followed at St. John Cemetery Resurrection Mausoleum, Middle Village, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.

Inflation & Chip Shortages Cause New Car Prices In Queens & NYC To Soar

Car prices have increased to historically high levels in recent months, as with many other consumer goods. According to figures from data analytics firm J.D. Power, the average transaction price of new vehicles in the U.S. was up 11.8% year-over-year in July 2022. Combined with soaring gasoline prices and rising interest rates, this is making car ownership more difficult and putting the brakes on auto sales. Dan Rose, a manager at a VIP Car Leasing & Financing of NYC lot was quoted as saying “Manufacturers are trying to squeeze end users with exorbitant prices to protect their bottom line and pass on the price increases to the end-user”.

We will examine why car prices are rising, how inflation is impacting car sales trends and when car prices are expected to drop.

Car prices are rising due to global supply chain issues.   An ongoing chip shortage is holding up production in the auto industry, creating a supply crunch. Rising raw material costs are also driving car prices up, intensified by the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Data from J.D. Power shows U.S. consumers forked out an average of $45,869 for a new vehicle in July 2022, a record high. The weighted average cost of raw materials used to produce a new vehicle hit an all-time high in 2021, rising 116% year-over-year. Electric vehicles have been especially affected by rising material costs, as the prices of key metals including lithium, nickel and cobalt — essential components of electric car batteries — have spiked.

What’s more, chip shortages mean that manufacturers are prioritizing their most expensive vehicles, further increasing average transaction prices.  Automakers don’t have enough semiconductors and semiconductors are interchangeable to some degree.  Why would a car manufacturer put them in $25,000 cars instead of $85,000 cars?

These supply chain issues have combined with the already existing imbalance of supply and demand in the auto industry, which was precipitated by COVID-19. In the U.S., there are historically more than 3.5 million vehicles in dealer lots at the end of each month. However, this figure fell to 2.7 million before the chip crisis even began, due to pandemic-induced factory shutdowns. At the same time, demand remained heightened throughout COVID-19, as pandemic stimulus checks and accumulated savings meant that many consumers were still willing and able to purchase new cars.

How Is Inflation Impacting Car Sales Trends?

Rising sticker prices have dampened consumer demand for new and used cars alike, and sales have plummeted as a result. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of U.S. light vehicle sales tracked 13.51 million in July 2022, marking a 9% decline year-over-year.  Likewise, year-to-date retail sales in June 2022 came in at just under 5.9 million units — marking the worst first half sales volume performance since 2011.

Consumers have expressed record low sentiment toward the purchase of a new vehicle, citing high prices and rising interest rates.

The same holds true for the used car market, where sales (as estimated by software firm DealerTrak) fell 13% year-over-year in June 2022.  This has been caused by the high prices and historically poor selection that has been plaguing the industry, but is likely now joined also by declining demand given declining consumer confidence, rising interest rates and slowing economic activity.

Sales of electric cars are faring better despite the aforementioned supply chain woes.  Estimates show that in the EU5 (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K.), penetration of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) grew to 19% month-over-month in June 2022, rising 0.9 percentage points. The U.S. also renewed its record penetration high of 7.2%. Indeed, the future of electric vehicles continues to look bright: In July 2022, the American Automobile Association (AAA) posted its latest survey results, indicating that one-quarter of Americans would likely opt for a fully electric vehicle for their next automobile purchase.

When Will Car Prices Drop?

Used car prices are already starting to drop as the market cools, having seemingly peaked in early 2022. On the other hand, new vehicle prices are unlikely to drop in 2022 due to persistent inflationary pressures.

There’s still a lot of inflation bubbling up in the new vehicle supply chain. Even though raw material costs are falling, suppliers have a lot of other higher non-commodity costs like diesel, freight, shipping, logistics, labor and electricity.  They will continue to pass these costs on to the automakers.

In addition, the effects of the chip shortage will continue to linger. Companies will need to rebuild inventory, which means that wholesale demand will compete with retail demand. This will in turn stabilize new vehicle prices; hopefully sometime in early to mid- 2023.

Car Price Increase Examples

So bad has it really been? A quick search on the internet will reveal these staggering numbers that really tell the whole story.

  • In the past year, Chevrolet prices have increased 39.10%.
  • In the past year, Cadillac prices have increased 24.70%.
  • In the past year, Jeep prices have increased 35.30%.
  • In the past year, Dodge prices have increased 33.90%.
  • In the past year, GMC prices have increased 24.30%.
  • In the past year, KIA prices have increased 23.70%.
  • In the past year, Chrysler prices have increased 24%.
  • In the past year, Mitsubishi prices have increased 23.50%.
  • In the past year, Nissan prices have increased 29.90%.
  • In the past year, Mercedes prices have increased 11.86%.
  • In the past year, Mazda prices have increased 13.49%.
  • In the past year, Ram prices have increased 42.60%.
  • In the past year, Audi prices have increased 21%.

In conclusion, Queens & NYC residents can only sit-back, wait and hope that inflationary pressure subsides, chips supply increases and car prices start to go down.

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