Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

26 Sep 2022, 10:40 a.m.

The Goes Wrong Show

If you need a hearty laugh, you may enjoy what Leonard and I enjoyed recently: The Goes Wrong Show, a British farce TV show (JustWatch for US to advise on streaming options; watch the first season free in the US on Tubi).

The Goes Wrong Show is a spinoff of the live theater production The Play That Goes Wrong, which Leonard and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing in New York City -- twice, if I recall! -- a few years ago. The live show and the TV show depict an ambitious theatrical troupe trying valiantly to get through live performances of (fairly clichéd) plays-within-a-play, despite all manner of mishap -- props and sets that fall apart, musical cues gone wrong, pratfalls, and whatnot.

A good farce is such a delight, like a magic trick or an arbitrage or an elegant piece of music. I absolutely love it when artists surprise me by combining pieces that were already right in front of me, such that immediately after the surprise I think "well of course that's what had to happen." And farces with physical elements require so much precise preparation so that slips, cracks, falls, etc. will all "go wrong" in precisely the right ways, on cue. I love laughing with admiration.

The Goes Wrong Show and The Play That Goes Wrong explore so many ways to go wrong, as though systematically cleaning out the problem space. I particularly appreciate when an explosive effect accidentally goes off many minutes before it's meant to, a neat inversion of the axiom of Chekhov's gun on the mantelpiece.

And there's no villain. The Show Must Go On and every character is trying to keep it going. The conflict is "us vs. nature/fate" like in a disaster movie. This is particularly pronounced when actors have to make up for a missing prop by miming. As Leonard said: it's all make-believe anyway, so why not one more?


Sumana Harihareswara
27 Sep 2022, 11:42 a.m.