MUSCATINE, Iowa–Whether watching a character slip hilariously on a banana peel, fall clumsily over another actor, or get stuck in an awkward position, few can resist the appeal of slapstick. The students of the Muscatine High School’s drama department certainly could not when they saw “The Play That Goes Wrong” performed at Circa 21 last winter. When Muscatine High School Drama Advisor Rene Mauck started looking for a a fall show and received a notification that she could get the rights to “The Play That Goes Wrong,” she knew that students would jump at the chance to perform it.
A textbook farce, “The Play That Goes Wrong” shows the shenanigans of a community theatre trying to put on a serious murder mystery. However, the naiveite of the actors gets the better of them, and the problems they face in putting on their show catch up with them in increasingly funny ways throughout the performance.
A completely different show than any Muscatine High School has put on recently, students have enjoyed getting to try their hand at staging a comedy and mastering all the gags that go into it. Luna Haskins, a sophomore playing Sandra, shared that the humor of getting knocked out represents both the most fun and the trickiest part of playing her role. “It’s a very physical show,” she observed.
On top of acing the physical tricks they perform, making what look like complete disasters take place in a safe and controlled manner, students also had to perfect studied awkwardness, something senior Evan Maynard, who plays Dennis, has found interesting to learn. He explained he had a lot of fun with, “the technique behind playing the character not incorrectly but idiotically,” and, “just working with everything going wrong and making it look natural.”
For many of the show’s humorous bits to work completely, they require sound effects. Stage crew students, including junior Renee Lin, have had their work cut out for them as they strive to meet every cue. Throughout the rehearsal process, Renee has spent a lot of time, “figuring out how to work the sound system and making sure everything is working,” she said.
Though it has taken a lot of effort, Renee has found seeing and hearing the show come together very satisfying. “I just like being able to see the show from the top and watching it develop,” she reflected
“The Play That Goes Wrong,” will have performances on Nov. 4 and 5 in the Muscatine High School auditorium (2705 Cedar Street in Muscatine) at 7 p.m. Attendees may purchase tickets onlinebor at the door, though Mauck particularly recommends buying tickets online ahead of time as it allows patrons to skip the ticket line and have the assurance that they got good seats. “It will save you a whole lot of trouble if you book ahead” she said.
An entertaining experience where audience members will feel like they practically have a part in this spiffing spoof, Mauck believes audiences will have just as good a time as she has watching the students put on one of their silliest performances in years. “I think the most fun thing has been watching the kids delight in being so funny.”