What part do costumes play in branding for The Play That Goes Wrong around the world? How are they made durable enough to survive eight performances a week of one of Theatreland’s most physical productions?
At my post-show Q&A to Groan Ups last month, original Mischief Theatre company member Charlie Russell praised the invaluable contribution of costume designer Roberto Surace. Surace is the only member of the creative team – besides co-writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields – who has worked on every single Mischief production.
For the latest of my #MischiefTalks last night at The Play That Goes Wrong, I was pleased to be able to hear from the man himself about some of the secrets of the original goes-wrong costumes – Sandra’s 1920s flapper-style dress is not quite what it seems – as well as the major operation that powers the costuming of Mischief’s hits internationally.
It was also special to be able to quiz a brand-new The Play That Goes Wrong cast. The current company is just two weeks into their run at the Duchess Theatre, where many have made their West End debuts in the long-runner – and indeed, one, understudy Jack Michael Stacey, made his at last night’s performance!
Mischief’s breakthrough hit premiered at London’s Old Red Lion Theatre in 2012, moved to Trafalgar Studios in 2012 and transferred in 2014 to the Duchess Theatre, where it celebrated its fifth birthday on 10 September. It has also toured extensively, launched myriad international productions and in 2017, opened on Broadway, where it ran for nearly two years. Its many awards include an Olivier for Best New Comedy and a Tony for Nigel Hook‘s spectacularly ramshackle set design.
In the play-within-a-play, The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on a 1920s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does! The accident-prone thespians battle against all odds to make it through to their final curtain call, with hilarious consequences – and uproarious audience laughter throughout.
After last night’s performance of The Play That Goes Wrong, I was joined by current West End cast members David Kirkbride, Ellie Morris, Blayar Benn, Ciara Morris, Elan James, Milo Clarke, Michael Keane and, on for the first time last night in the role of Chris/Inspector Carter, Jack Michael Stacey as well as costume designer Roberto Surace.
Event photography by Peter Jones.
Production photography by Robert Day.