It has been a long time since I have been able to write one of my Autism Review blogs but after seeing ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ at Manchester Opera House on Saturday 4th June, I really wanted to write a new blog.
As always, the Autism Review blog will focus on accessibility for autistic people and this particular review will focus on both the venue of Manchester Opera House and ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’.
Before the show
When I originally booked my ticket, I immediately started looking for information about access. The Manchester Opera House website (http://manchesteroperahouse.com/) provides very limited information on access which isn’t very easy to find and doesn’t focus on accessibility for those with hidden disabilities.
However, the Mischief Theatre website (https://www.mischiefcomedy.com/) does provide a lot of information their available accessible performances. As well as this information, I noticed that they also provide a visual story for ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’. This was specifically for a relaxed performance at the Duchess Theatre there were still some useful information available for anyone going to the see the show.
The visual story provides information about:
- What a play within a play is,
- Who the cast are including photos,
- What the set looks like,
- Information on what happens in the play (without spoilers),
- Information about loud noises and combat etc,
- Explaining that you can have phones on during a relaxed performance.
This provides a detailed overview for those going to see the show. However, the visual story is very text heavy which makes it quite overloading to read so there needs to be a better balance of images and text. It does also mention the loud noises but just that they ‘happen throughout the show’, it would be really helpful if specific times of these noises to be provided.
When I booked my ticket, I was provided with an arrival time 50 minutes before the show was due to start. When I arrived at Manchester Opera House at the designated time, I was greeted by friendly staff who showed me where I needed to go to show my ticket. Once my ticket had been scanned, I entered the theatre to be met with three long queues of people in a small space. This was immediately overwhelming as it wasn’t clear where I need to be. In the end, I need to queue up twice so I was quite overwhelmed by the time I got to my seat.
When I had seen that I needed to be there 50 minutes before, I thought that this would be difficult in terms of accessibility and having to wait around, however having some of the cast come into the audience as part of the pre-performance meant that it didn’t feel I was waiting that long. The visual story didn’t mention this but knowing it was a play within a play really helped with this.
‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ Performance
The play itself was an absolute masterclass of comedy and I cried with laughter from start to finish. I was sat in the stalls which meant I didn’t have any of the lighting shining in my eyes which I often find to be difficult so I would recommend sitting in those seats.
The slapstick nature of the comedy and the format of the play means that a lot of the things that go wrong are foreshadowed which helps to reduce the amount of uncertainty and meant I didn’t jump throughout the performance which I normally do. There was an element of audience participation throughout the performance which could be a slight barrier in terms of accessibility if it is unexpected or loud so this would be good to mention in a visual story. However, as someone who is very familiar with the performances of Mischief Theatre, this was expected.
It was well deserving of the standing ovation!
After the show
When the show finished, I was able to leave through a side door which meant I didn’t need to go back through the crowded entrance again.
I also wanted to mention in this review about my experience of meeting the cast after the show. I had seen on social media that the cast were doing stage door and as a huge Mischief Theatre fan, I really wanted this opportunity. Someone came out of the stage door to explain to us where to stand and what would happen which was really helpful.
I definitely get social anxiety so I was really nervous about this everyone was really lovely which instantly made me relax and they spent a good amount of time which each person. I often struggle to know what to say when I meet people for the first time but I was able to speak to everyone.
Thank you so much to Mischief Theatre for this experience.
Overall, it is clear to see the dedication that Mischief have for accessibility.