London The Play That Goes Wrong Star Dave Hearn on Stunt Man Fantasies & More

first_img I love the way Max remains unflappably cheerful in the face of every possible adversity. Yes, but that’s because he’s a bit of a lovable idiot, and I’ve grown to love him a bit. He is so innocent and so naïve that he doesn’t realize he’s being laughed at. He thinks that people are laughing with him and that he’s doing a really great job. This play began Off West End and on tour as a one-act, and has now been expanded for a West End audience. How thrilling is this? This whole experience has been a bit of a Cinderella story. We’ve had no one famous in it—no superstars in leading roles—and when we were asked by Kenny [Wax], our producer, to write a second act we were concerned that the piece wouldn’t translate to a longer format or a bigger theater when in fact it has. So much could actually go wrong during a performance of your play—how do you keep the staged mishaps in check? It’s about going back to what is the right thing to do, which is to say, how would these characters actually behave? We’ve run “The Play That Goes Right” a few times in rehearsal, and that helps quite a lot. It reminds you how the play is meant to have gone in these actors’ heads. Why don’t you perform that for the public, so people can see both? We’ve discussed doing that, but we weren’t sure if it was a good enough play on its own to merit bringing people in to watch it. People have to know The Play That Goes Wrong very well for a trouble-free version to make any sense. You mean we could watch a version of Murder at Haversham Manor that contains no mistakes at all? There is a version of the play where nothing goes wrong, and in a way that for us is very very funny: you find yourself thinking, “Oh, wow, this is quite a serious play!” Do you realize there’s an actual young British actor named Max Bennett currently appearing in ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore? So I gather, I’ve just seen an article about him. Well, I hope he’ll let us know if and when he comes to see [the play]! Nothing more serious? I did dislocate my shoulder twice, but that’s the thing—stuff like that happens and the audience laughs and thinks it’s part of the show! I got thrown over a chaise longue and my shoulder came out, but I think I only missed five performances or something like that during our entire tour. View Commentscenter_img What do you think is most crucial in making the show work? I suppose it has to do with the basic principle of clowning and those really old clowns like Keaton and Chaplin who may appear stupid and bumbling and falling over all the time when in fact it actually takes a lot of practice and skill to make it look so bad. You have to be very good at something to be very bad at it. Action Shakespeare! It sounds as if the movies would be good for you. I’d love to be a stunt double or stunt extra in an action film. I used to do gymnastics and acrobatics, so I really do enjoy the physical stuff. That’s why this show is perfect for me. It must be nice to discover that you’re made of pretty stern stuff. You know, it takes a little while to realize you’re not made of glass. Actors are a lot tougher than you might think they are. The West End has a sleeper success in The Play That Goes Wrong, the delicious play-within-a-play that chronicles all manner of onstage and offstage mishaps during a performance of an old-style mystery called Murder at Haversham Manor. A hybrid of Noises Off and The Mousetrap, director Mark Bell’s production at the Duchess Theatre asks a lot of its young cast—perhaps none more so than Dave Hearn as matinee idol Max Bennett, who keeps smiling even when all hell is breaking loose around him: missing props, collapsing scenery, and forgotten lines, for a start. Broadway.com caught the ever-charming performer to chat about keeping pratfalls fresh, locating his inner stunt man and more. How are you holding up physically given what befalls you eight times a week? Pretty well. I think we all get a couple of cuts and bruises most shows, but the overall physical exertion is a big adrenalin rush and that seems to keep us going. You’re a classically trained actor—what would you like to do next? I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure someone my age is expected to want to do a big Shakespeare part, like Hamlet, but if someone asked me to run up a wall and jump off it, I’d be very very happy [laughs].last_img

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