From left, Jonathan Valerio, Andrew Philpot, Christen Celaya, Cameron Vargas, Don Stewart, and Madison Shaheen in PCPA's production of 'The Play That Goes Wrong' | Photo: Luis Escobar, Reflections Photography Studio

This July, PCPA welcomes the Cornley Drama Society from England to perform at the Solvang Festival Theater. Cornley’s show, The Murder at Haversham Manor, is a mansion mystery on the misty moors, a staple of British genres. But, before the house lights even dim, it’s clear that Haversham Manor is going to be a bumpy ride; thus begins The Play That Goes Wrong, a comedy of theatrical disasters by Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, and Jonathan Sayer, directed by Roger DeLaurier.

“So much goes wrong,” says Erik Stein, who plays Cornley member Robert Grove. “Things go wrong instantly. Before the show even starts. It’s hilarious chaos.”

DeLaurier calls the play a “tight, clockwork farce” with moments of improvisation throughout (which gives the cast some latitude in case something actually does go wrong in this incredibly complicated production). The show features nonstop action, stunts, and physical gags — which require months of planning and rehearsal. “You have to count on the actors and their imagination and intelligence to get it right and do it in a way that they can repeat it,” says DeLaurier.

Stein, who wears knee pads and a back brace to safely perform the physicality of the show, calls it “choreographed chaos.” “Our job is to make it look out of control when in fact we’ve practiced it many times,” he says.

One of the noteworthy aspects of this show is the astonishing set necessary for the slow deterioration of Haversham Manor’s interior. Set designer Jason Bolen has created what DeLaurier calls “a combination jungle gym and puppet.”

“It moves; it tells a story; it creates conflict,” says associate director Kristina Melsheimer. “Our scenic and props team have done a great job in crafting this extra “character.”

See Cornley’s comical catastrophe in The Play That Goes Wrong at the Solvang Festival Theatre (420 2nd St., Solvang) July 12-28. See

Get News in Your Inbox


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.