Review: Good Luck, Studio, Mercury Theatre

The nights are drawing in, the weather is getting colder and good news seems to be few and far in between at the moment, so we’re all in need of a laugh. Thankfully theatre company Mischief has come to the rescue with new show Good Luck, Studio, which premieres at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre before transferring to the Salisbury Playhouse and Yvonne Arnaud. 

A collaboration with the Mercury and Wiltshire Creative, Good Luck, Studio is a dark comedy and a riot from start to finish. It’s the final night of recording children’s TV show Wibble the Dragon and there’s an hour left to film a few pages of script, but things aren’t going to plan. The show is massively over budget, there’s already been too many accidents on set, the cast are all fed up and the new Wibble can’t quite master his lines. If that wasn’t bad enough, a rejected actor turns up on set, armed with a dragon costume of his own and a score to settle.  

While this show isn’t for young kids (it’s recommended for those aged 14 and over), there’s plenty to keep the audience entertained, and Good Luck, Studio features the same slapstick comedy that made Mischief’s best-known production The Play That Goes Wrong so successful. Henry Shields has written a show packed full of gags, but one that’s darker than Mischief’s previous work, and at times there are moments which are truly touching. The show is said to be inspired by Shields’ time spent working in a TV studio, but the characters are nothing like the people he worked with (at least that’s what he says).

This is Mischief’s Henry Lewis directorial debut, and he does a great job of keeping the action moving. The play shows the action from different perspectives ­– in the first act the action shifts from the stage to the gallery, while in the second act the third location of a medic’s office is thrown into the mix, which injects even more energy into the production. 

Designer Sara Perks has excelled, creating a versatile revolving set which captures the bold, colourful world of children’s TV along with a bland but functional gallery and a sanitised medical room. Likewise the costumes for the Wibble the Dragon show are a feast for the eyes, with regal purple and gold colours for the King and a larger than life pineapple dress for his daughter. 

Good Luck, Studio features a strong cast who all excel in their roles, and fans of Mischief may notice some familiar faces from previous productions. Tom Walker is delightfully dastardly as the mean Director Andy, delivering some brilliant lines, particularly about actors, with icy aplomb (a particular favourite: “the only time I want an actor talking to me is when I’m ordering a coffee); while Bryony Corrigan exudes frantic energy as the stressed producer who has to listen Andy’s tirades. Harry Kershaw is wonderfully awkward as writer Sean, and Eboni Dixon is endearing as Pam (not Sam), a puppeteer who is resigned to hiding in the wings. Greg Tannahill demonstrates superb physical comedy in an unforgettable scene in the second act, as does Chris Leask throughout, while Gareth Tempest manages to inject some emotion and drama into the production as David. An unfortunate incident involving Tempest’s microphone meant that a few lines were a little quiet, but this was thankfully resolved quickly. This really is an ensemble performance but Adam Byron very nearly steals the show. He’s an utter delight as Anthony, an ageing, bellowing classical actor who could give Brian Blessed a run for his money in the volume stakes. Anthony’s tales of encounters with acting royalty are among the highlights of the show, and there’s an anecdote about an incident involving Ian McKellen in Caffé Nero which left the audience in hysterics (and this reviewer still laughing the next day).

The show is certainly serious in places and there are a few dark jokes which were a little too dark at times. But despite a few moments not quite hitting the mark, on the whole this is a very funny production. Of course it’s not believable, but that’s the beauty of theatre like this – for two hours you can forget about the world and enjoy an evening of hilarity. Entertaining, chaotic and clever, Good Luck, Studio provides some much-needed escapism and a barrel full of laughs. One of Mischief’s finest creations, it certainly deserves a bright future.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Good Luck, Studio runs at the Mercury Theatre until 15 October before transferring to the Salisbury Playhouse from 18 October – 5 November and Yvonne Arnaud from 8 – 12 November 2022.

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

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