The Play What I Wrote clearly has a spark of magic about it. It’s won countless prestigious awards, it’s had West End and Broadway runs, and it’s had the likes of Liam Neeson and Tom Hiddleston guest star in it. So theatre professionals, creatives and audiences the world over must adore The Play What I Wrote and its fantastic, utterly absurd daftness.
Actors Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck play a delightful double act. And Dennis is happy to be a double act. Thom, however, dreams of greater things and wants to put on a play of his own. In a haphazard whirlwind two hours, Dennis somehow manages to trick everyone around him into putting on a double act, only to end up performing Thom’s play instead. But they need a guest star – and this is where the ‘fun’ comes in.
I imagine the second act, starring the guest star, can go one of three ways:
- The guest performer is a seasoned comedian, able to elevate the script and put their own hilarious spin on the show which leaves audiences chucklingly delighted
- The guest star is a superstar (aka Tom Hiddleston), and audiences are simply mesmerised by them making a fool of themselves
- The guest is, well, a guest – a great performer but not enough of a surprise to really add the wow factor
I guess only you, the audience, will know which of those three options takes to the stage as the guest star changes frequently so you never know what you might get. It’s this magical mystery that makes the play so intriguing – it’s certainly a unique concept and the anticipation of not knowing who’s about to walk on stage really did make it an interesting watch.
The actors, including Mitesh Soni who plays numerous parts throughout the evening, are all fantastic and I would sincerely love to see them all in future shows. The material and the overall vibe of The Play What I Wrote just isn’t for me. It’s a bit like an abstract, pared-down version of The Play That Goes Wrong (which is a much younger play by comparison) – so much so that I struggle to know if parts have actually gone wrong or if it’s all just part of the act. It feels a little awkward at times, which is maybe the vibe they’re going for. I didn’t grow up around the Morecambe and Wise style of comedy so that kind of humour probably isn’t up my street – it’s clear there were some real fans in the audience and it brought a smile to see them having a really lovely time. For many I think the play must bring a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality, and no one can begrudge that!
It’s a lovely show filled with a very talented cast. If you’re a huge fan of the Morecambe and Wise comedy style then this one might just be for you.
Catch the show at York Theatre Royal until 2nd July.
Photograph credited to Manuel Harlan