By Julianne Mosher
Your parents always said, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Well, that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes two wrongs continue into three, four, five… and then a whole show ends up collapsing.
In Suffolk County Community College’s latest Selden production, “The Play That Goes Wrong,” the audience is watching a play within a play and it will have you laughing from the moment you sit down.
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, the show starts off with some audience improv — two cast members are setting up the stage and communicating with everyone settling in. From the moment you walk in, shenanigans are already starting — like fixing a broken mantlepiece, looking for a lost dog and trying to figure out where someone’s Duran Duran CD went.
Then we’re introduced to “The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s” director, Chris Bean, who gives us a little history lesson on the troupe. Known for their productions including Two Sisters, The Lion and the Wardrobe, Cat, and James and the Peach, it’s safe to say the group is a little unlucky and a little under budget. But that doesn’t stop the actors from giving it their all with their latest production of The Murder at Havensham Manor — a 1930s murder mystery play.
When the curtain rises, mayhem ensues and it’s chaotic from beginning to end.
Delaina Wratchford, who plays Bean, who plays the inspector, plans on heading to Broadway after her time at SCCC, and with this performance, she’s going to get on that stage sooner than later.
That being said, what’s interesting and really special about this show is that each actor is playing two parts — they’re playing another actor who is then playing a character in The Murder at Havensham Manor. Writing that out sounds confusing, but trust me, when you watch it, it is so seamless that it makes perfect sense and there is not one flaw in it … other than all the chaotic bad luck the actors have during their performance.
Jerry Ewald, who plays Robert Grove, who plays Thomas Colleymoore, lights up the room with his humor and his ability to stay in character even throughout the intermission. The same goes for Aiden Gomez (Jonathan, then Charles Haversham), William Begley (Max Bennett, then Cecil Haversham) and Carson Warkenthien (Dennis Tyde, then Perkins). They were able to switch back and forth between their characters to the play performers with ease.
Even the “background” performers have a huge part in the show. First-time SCCC performer Scott Dowd (who plays Trevor the sound tech) and Kayla Pisano (Annie) bring another level to the show — because they represent people that we can relate to, personally.
One slight disclaimer, without giving too much away. You’re going to see a lot of stunts in this show, and for performers like Wratchford, Ewald and Michaela Fitzsimmons (Sandra Wilkinson, then Florence Colleymoore), you’re going to wince, but be so impressed by their professionalism under these dire movements.
So, that leads to a huge kudos to the set design staff. The stage is set up like an old-time parlor, with two levels and an elevator. The carpentry and engineering that was put into this design — created by students — is truly something you’d see on Broadway, possibly even better.
The show is special in many ways, but an interesting fact is that it was directed by Bryan Kimmelman — a Smithtown native who studied on the same stage as a theater major nearly two decades ago.
“I’ve never forgotten my two years here,” he said. “And it’s carried with me the last 10 years with anything professional I’ve done.”
Kimmelman said that when he was a student, he knew the caliber of the education he was receiving at Suffolk.
“I know what comes out of this school and they always produce quality work,” he said. “People are going to come here and see young people working towards being a professional on all levels. So, if you want to see professionals in their moment of prime, then you need to see this show.”
Tickets for The Play That Goes Wrong are on sale now for viewings on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. at the Shea Theatre, Islip Arts Building on the Ammerman Campus, 533 College Road, Selden. General admission is $15, veterans and students 16 years of age or younger is $10. Suffolk students with current ID can receive two free tickets.
For more information or to order, visit sunysuffolk.edu/spotlight or call 631-451-4163.