Let’s meet the playwrights of this chaotic and hilarious play-within-a-play. Because The Play That Goes Wrong has seen such success, it may be surprising to learn that this was the first play that Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, and Jonathan Sayer wrote together.
The three met at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and later became roommates in West London, where they got to work on the play. Slayer noted that working with two other people was a great way to write The Play That Goes Wrong.
“We could troubleshoot and [build off of each other’s ideas,]” Sayer said.
Check out this video for a more behind-the-scenes look at playwrights and their writing process. Listen to their Mischief Makers podcast for more background about them and their productions, or follow them on social media @mischiefcomedy.
“A big inspiration for me was Michael Green,” Lewis said. “He wrote a book called The Art of Coarse Acting which is a very funny book about his experiences in amateur theatre.”
The Artistic Director of Mischief Theatre Company, Lewis is also an Olivier award-winning writer, actor, and producer. His work has been produced in over 40 countries.
He, and his The Play That Goes Wrong co-writers were all part of the original London cast as well as the original Broadway cast. They won London’s What’sOnStage Award in 2014 and an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2015.
He is also the Co-Artistic Director of The Trick and teaches at LAMDA. His writing and acting credits include Peter Pan Goes Wrong and A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong, as well as the short film The Man in the Room and TV series The Goes Wrong Show.
Lewis produced and performed in the West End revival of Mercury Fur and produced Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts. He is the creator and founder of The Mystery Agency, an online collection of interactive mystery puzzle experiences.
Shields originally went to school for nursing, but dropped out and then auditioned to attend LAMDA where he met Lewis and Sayer. With them, he formed the Mischief Theatre Company.
His credits include the plays The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Groan Ups, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, and Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle. Credits also include the TV series The Goes Wrong Show, A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong, Holby City, and Royal Variety Performance.
Sayer is the founder, writer, and company director of Mischief Theatre Company. The Olivier award-winning playwright is a writer, actor and producer and attended LAMDA. His nickname is “Jono.”
Sayer’s Broadway stage credits include Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Play That Goes Wrong. Stage credits from the West End include Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle, Magic Goes Wrong, The Play That Goes Wrong, Groan Ups, and The Comedy About a Bank Robbery.
He has taught improvisation at LAMDA, Mountview, and Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts and is writing his first book.
Sayer’s film and television credits include appearances in We are Most Amused and Amazed, Keep it in the Family, Children in Need, and Comic Relief.
“What we like in comedy is inviting people to laugh at us as opposed to laugh with us,” Sayer noted. “[The Play That Goes Wrong] is the story of people overreaching themselves– doing something that isn’t in their zoning capabilities.”
What these playwrights all have in common is that they wanted to make those that come to see The Play That Goes Wrong laugh and have a wonderful time at the theatre.
“This show has an incredible amount of jokes in it,” Slayer said. “It has one obvious aim – whether we are doing it in front of four people at a pub or 950 people [in the theatre], you want [the audience] to laugh as much as possible.”