Garfield Center for the Arts presents “A Play that Goes Wrong”

By Piper Sartison
Elm Staff Writer

From Feb. 18 to March 6, The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre is presenting “The Play that Goes Wrong” for the Chestertown community. This play is written by Henry Lewis, Jonathon Sayer, and Henry Shields, and is directed by Garfield Center Executive Director Steven Arnold. 

According to the play’s description on the Garfield Center website, this play — described as “part ‘Noises Off,’ part Monty Python, [and] part Sherlock Holmes” — focuses on a setup play that the audience is aware of.  

The plot within the acknowledged play is about characters that are investigating the cause of death of another character in the house. Throughout this investigation, the cast makes purposeful mistakes with the props, sound effects, and lines to humor the audience. 

“I remember reading the script the first time and thinking, ‘this is utterly nuts and I don’t even know how we can pull off half of that,’” Arnold said in his opening notes in the program. “That, of course, was just sauce for the goose, as I love a good challenge.” 

The cast is made up of 16 members, specializing in costume and production design, backstage crew, actors, and stage management. 

“The Play that Goes Wrong” was originally created as a one-act performance in London in 2012, according to Arnold. Since then, it was showcased on Broadway in 2017 and has been performed in over 35 countries. This play also won multiple awards, including a Laurence Oliver Award for Best Comedy in 2015, a Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Play, and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play, both in 2017. 

According to the website, “while this play seems on the surface to be a 1920s whodunit, the play is really about the actors attempting to perform it.”

“Because in this laugh-a-minute comedy, featuring an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, falling set pieces, and actors who trip over everything — including their lines — absolutely everything that can go wrong in the performance does, indeed, go wrong,” the website said. “Nevertheless, the accident-prone thespians battle against all odds to make it through to their final curtain call, with hilarious consequences.” 

Set Design, Construction, Lights, and Technical Director Butch Clark also helped put the entire production together, in addition to working at the U.S. Postal Service and volunteering with several other productions.

“Clark is an absolute genius,” Arnold said. “He is the wizard behind the curtain, and we all benefit from the magic he creates.” 

Many of the actors have a lot of involvement in the theatre, such as WC alumnus and Assistant to the President of the College Patrick Pearce ’00, who performs as “Chris,” and J.W. Ruth, a graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, who performs as “Cecil.” In addition, Melissa McGlynn, who performs as “Trish,” has had over 30 years of experience in the field. 

The Garfield Center for the Arts is set to perform future plays for the community, such as “Live Playwrights’ Society,” “The Laramie Project,” “Short Attention Span Theatre,” and “The Good Doctor.” More information is available on their website and at the box office at (410) 810-2060.

“The Play that Goes Wrong” will run on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. 

The Garfield Center at the Prince Theatre is located at 210 High Street in Chestertown, Md. The production is two hours long with a 15-minute intermission. General admission is 20 dollars and 10 dollars for students at the door.

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