NEW YORK - "The Play That Goes Wrong" brings slapstick from the British stage to Broadway, by showing how a simple murder mystery put on by an amateur theater group can deteriorate before our eyes.
Our story begins in London, where director J.J. Abrams discovered a funny play while directing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in England.
Abrams laughed so long and so hard at the play he ended up bringing it home, and I am so grateful because I had so much fun watching this symphony of slapstick.
"The Show That Goes Wrong" is the right place to laugh out loud, and it comes from the aptly named Mischief Theater Company. The show begins as the audience is still getting settled, and all is not quite ready on stage. So a stagehand recruits a theatergoer to help repair a shelf above a fireplace, without much success.
It turns out the "stagehand" is not a crew member at all. Ashley Bryant is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and one of the stars of the show.
"We're looking at slap sticks," she said, showing off big clapper-type devices. "And the term 'slapstick' actually comes from two wooden stick slapped together that make the sounds that enhance the action you're seeing onstage."
She recruited co-star Amelia McClain to show how it's done, and at this point, I urge you to check out the video above to watch for yourself the careful choreography. It's tough to make it look easy.
"The first two weeks, I was bruised from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet," McClain said.
Bryant said nothing in her life prepared her for this mayhem.
"It was equal parts excited and terrified," she said. "So I was really thrilled to be part of the show, but also frightened at the prospect of actually doing the work."
McClain confessed she too was nervous every night for "a good two months," but now the cast is settled in for a long run.
And audiences are so glad the performers conquered their fears, because the result is the funniest play I have ever seen on Broadway or anywhere else.