“Why aren’t there any good dinner-theatre places around?”
A friend asked the question a couple weeks ago, and I remembered that Theatre in the Country operates in downtown Langley, where Reg and Erin Parks have produced plays for seven years. Before that, they started out in rural Whonnock, hence the company’s “country” name.
Friday night (Feb. 10), I finally had a chance to take in a show at the part-time church venue on Glover Road, where dinner was served at 6:30 p.m. and the show started at 7:30.
We were excited to see “The Play That Goes Wrong,” a “play within a play” comedy that’s been a decade-long hit in London for Mischief Theatre Company. The Monty Python-ish farce follows the Cornley Drama Society’s doomed production of the very serious, 1920s-set whodunit “Murder at Haversham Manor.” As the title suggests, things go wrong – very wrong.
Props malfunction and disappear, sets fall apart, actors are knocked unconscious, lines are butchered and mayhem ensues as the actors struggle to go on with the disastrous show.
The script is similar to the Mischief company’s “Peter Pan Goes Wrong,” staged last fall by the Arts Club at its Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver. That play is hilarious, and so is “The Play That Goes Wrong.”
Surrey-based actors Timothy Marron (as Chris, the bewildered director of “Murder at Haversham Manor”) and Aaron Wheeler (Jonathan, caught in a love triangle) are two stars of the current show at Theatre in The Country, along with six others (Mallory Hema, Luca Herring, Kelly Wersta, Amber McMunn, Gary Wolfowicz, Scott Thomas Anderson).
Director Simon Challenger says there’s a reason such comedies are so successful.
“They make us laugh by allowing us, just for a minute, to see ourselves in similar predicaments as the performers on stage in front of us,” Challenger notes in the program. “While most of won’t ever find ourselves in the same situation as our actors (I sincerely hope you don’t), we’ve all experienced times where, despite our best efforts, things went off the rails in epic fashion.”
The play is “a modern theatre success story,” confirms Reg Parks, artistic director, “and we are lucky to get the license to produce this show, even as it is still running in London and New York.”
He’s right about “The Play That Goes Wrong,” which runs until Feb. 25 at Theatre in the Country’s space, shared by Langley Vineyard Church. The show can be enjoyed with Over the Top Catering’s tasty dinner buffet (roast beef, chicken, all the fixings), or on its own. It’s best to book a table or seat facing the stage, as the stageside ones at the west end of the room aren’t ideal for viewing (at least for the current show’s stage setup).
Laughs are guaranteed with this comedy, which kicks off a diverse 2023 season for Theatre in the Country, followed by “Steel Magnolias” (in April), “The Sound of Music” (June), “Shawshank Redemption” (October) and “A Christmas Carol” (November and December).
For tickets and info, visit theatreinthecountry.com or call 604-259-9737.