For a group of actors whose performances go epically wrong every night, the Mischief Theatre Company seems to have got plenty right.
They’ve an acclaimed West End show (The Play That Goes Wrong) and Broadway run under their belt; multiple BBC Christmas specials, including A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong; and now an upcoming six-part series, The Goes Wrong Show, airing on BBC One. In the company’s latest venture, eagle-eyed viewers will also notice that the on-screen cast has expanded, to include longtime company member Bryony Corrigan.
But the addition of a third woman to the regular on-screen cast is no coincidence, her co-stars have revealed. Speaking to RadioTimes.com, they admitted that the company has long been wrestling with how to rectify its “male dominated” cast and scripts, which are all written by the three male Mischief Company co-founders.
“We are very aware that we’re currently male dominated,” actor Dave Hearn said. “And that’s kind of because, I don’t feel like we’re that old, but we are a product of our time, which is 10 years ago [since Mischief Theatre was founded].”
In each onstage or televised performance, the troupe play a hapless and accident-prone cast of ‘amateur actors’ for whom everything that could go wrong — lines forgotten, sets collapsing, limbs broken — does. Forget laugh-a-minute; there’s a joke roughly every six seconds.
Nancy Zamit said that she and her female co-star Charlie Russell (the only two regular on-screen female cast members until Corrigan joined) were constantly pitted against one another in various onstage and televised BBC productions, as part of a “massive [on-screen] rivalry” played up for laughs. “I think we’ve finally stomped that out completely,” she said.
For the televised BBC Christmas special Peter Pan Goes Wrong, she fought to ensure that her and Russell’s characters — who have a fight over a male character — reconciled onstage. “That was a really specific decision. To be like, ‘Let’s not have the girls fight again’.”
Recalling Zamit’s conversation with the male writers, Corrigan said: “I remember the conversation that you [Zamit] had, where you were like, ‘I think actually at this point, we need to have a look where we’re not fighting any more. We need to have a hug and be like, ‘I don’t blame you”.”
Corrigan also revealed that she and other female co-stars question scenes where female characters only help to set up a joke. “We do sometimes go ‘why’, if they’ve written something and we’ll go, ‘[It] actually might be interesting if maybe Nancy has that bit there’, rather than it being about the guy doing something to them, that we swap it or something, and it’s the other way round.”
Asked what her favourite episode is from The Goes Wrong Show, Russell said it was ‘Pilot’, because “all three women have really, really differing, interesting, funny roles.
“And there’s a lot of time where it’s the three of us, and that was a real joy”.
The Goes Wrong Show’s Christmas special is scheduled to air at 7:30pm on Monday 23rd December. The rest of the series begins Friday 3rd January 2020