Madcap ‘One Act Play’ will be ‘just good fun’
If all goes well, “The One-Act Play That Goes Wrong” will open at The Merc Playhouse on Friday (Sept 16) and run for three weekends. If things go awry, however, you might not even notice. Because unlike in most plays, where mishaps must be ignored, in this play they are integral to the story line.
A play within a play, “The One-Act Play That Goes Wrong” revolves around the fictitious, inept, and accident-prone Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, which is putting on a production of the classic murder mystery “The Murder at Haversham Manor.” Everything that can possibly go wrong does just that. “Hilarious disaster ensues and the cast start to crack under pressure,” a Merc press release said.
“It’s the kind of play where one thing is happening in the front of the stage and another thing is going wrong in the background, or vice versa,” director Easton said. “Depending on where you sit in the theater, you might notice something and not realize something else was happening simultaneously until later. There is a constant series of mishaps.”
The production is “just pure good fun,” Easton said. “There is no special meaning in this play; I picked it simply because it is so funny. I think we can all do with a laugh and this play offers so many opportunities for that. You can watch it and laugh and have a good time.”
Although the play is written as a madcap one-act, to be run continuously, Easton split it into two parts to create an intermission. “That was interesting,” he said. “We had to figure out where to cut it and still make it flow.”
The cast is a mix of familiar Merc faces and newcomers. Audiences will recognize the talents of Merc veterans Bill Bley, LaShelle Easton, Danbert Nobacon and Jamie Petitto, and will be delighted by the performances of those new to The Merc’s stage: Jim Ditto, Amy Ellinger, Amanda Fine and Natasha Salemme.
The Merc’s first full adult production since before COVID, “The One-Act Play That Goes Wrong” is more than just a script and a cast of characters — it’s a bit of an organic entity, with the set itself playing as large a role as the main characters. “LaShelle designed it, Sharla [Lynn] built it, and LaShelle and I painted it.” Easton said of the set. “It has mechanical aspects to it — it has a life of its own.”
“Come for a fun evening,” Easton said. “There’s a new air system in The Merc; it’s a really comfortable place to be. Get away from it all, enjoy the play, spend the evening with us.”
“The One-Act Play That Goes Wrong” runs Sept. 16-17, 22-24, 29-30, and Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. The Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 shows are at 2 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes prior to showtime and advance ticket purchases are recommended. Ticket prices are $18 advance; $20 at the door; $5 for youth. Sept. 22 and 29 shows are admission by donation. Visit mercplayhouse.org for more information.