“Wibble! Wibble! The dragon who can jump and dance and giggle!”
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a performance of Good Luck, Studio, a new Mischief show that has been touring since the beginning of October of this year. Mischief is known for its different comedy shows, with the most famous being The Play That Goes Wrong, which would go on to become a television show on the BBC, The Goes Wrong Show (Mischief’s time with the BBC actually inspired this new production!). Good Luck, Studio, which takes a darker turn than Mischief’s previous works, is written by Henry Shields, who is making his solo writing debut with Mischief – Their previous works have been written by the trio of Shields, Henry Lewis, and Jonathan Sayer. Lewis joins Shields on the creative team as the director, a first for him within the company.
The show is, in Shields’s own words, a “time jump comedy,” in which the same hour is repeated from different perspectives using a simple yet effective rotating stage to take the audience between the Wibble set, the gallery, and the medic’s office. In the first act, audiences watch the first thirty minutes of filming, first from the perspective of the child audience of Wibble the Dragon, then as observers of the chaos in the gallery. The second act goes between all three sets. Clocks on each section of the set give the audience a way to see where they are in the final hour throughout the show. The choice to play the final hour from different perspectives was a great call, as it gives Shields the opportunity to bring in some absolutely hilarious callbacks that will make you want to rewatch the show in order to catch all of them. My personal favorite is “I’m a messy she-goat” – You’ll have to see it to understand it!
Andy (Tom Walker), the director, and Saoirse (Bryony Corrigan), the producer, have many of their scenes in the gallery, snapping at each other as they attempt to finish filming 16 pages of the script within the final hour on set. Andy is a man who is exhausted and takes out his anger on those around him, leading to many verbal attacks throughout the show – I particularly enjoyed when Andy asks if he is in a Starbucks, as “the only time I ever want help from an actress is when I’m ordering a coffee.” Saoirse, who is equally exhausted, attempts to treat others with kindness, even though she too ends up expressing her frustration at times. Shields writes the two like tired parents attempting to control a group of children in a way that might remind Mischief fans of Shields’s Goes Wrong character, the director, Chris Bean (with a few more expletives and threats).
On stage, Elizabeth (Jemma Geanaus), a young actress who is done with children’s television and is waiting for her big break on Call the Midwife, plays Princess Pineapple. Anthony (Adam Byron), an older actor who hilariously recounts stories from his acting past, plays King Lemonhead. And finally, Toby (Chris Leask), a clumsy but enthusiastic replacement for the original actor, plays the titular role of Wibble the Dragon – Oh, and Pam (Eboni Dixon) puppeteers Hopscotch the Frog, constantly being forgotten by the cast and crew alike.
Michaela (Sophia Lorenti), the first assistant director, is the only one who is able to communicate between the gallery and the studio itself, doing her best to control the chaos. She wields power over the actors but is scared of those in the gallery who have the power to fire her without a second thought. Sean (Harry Kershaw), the writer of Wibble the Dragon, alternates between being on stage and in the gallery, attempting to work up the courage to talk to Elizabeth while also defending his work.
As if there isn’t enough chaos with only an hour remaining to film Wibble the Dragon before production runs into overtime, things take a darker turn when David Cooper-Brown (Gareth Tempest) appears with his own Wibble costume, a desire to exact revenge, and a loaded gun. The shoot (pun intended) becomes a hostage situation, in which David is determined to play the role that he had failed to be cast as at auditions.
“Where did you get a gun Wibble? You naughty dragon.”
For those who are fans of Mischief, Good Luck, Studio, similarly to the Goes Wrong shows, has some hilarious slapstick comedy. Without any major spoilers, Greg Tannahill (who is also the fight director) shows off his skills as a physical comedian in a side-splitting scene where his character, the medic, Kevin, has an incident involving superglue. One cannot help but be reminded of all of the suffering his Goes Wrong character, Jonathan Harris, has gone through over the years.
There are several moments in the show that remind you of why Mischief has been so successful – Slapstick comedy, actors messing up lines, and miscommunication. Like all Mischief shows, there is a theme of hope that runs throughout, regardless of how dark things may get. But unlike Mischief’s other shows, Shields takes the comedy in a new direction, creating a work made for audiences ages fourteen and up. From the first few minutes of Good Luck, Studio, there are curses flying around the stage, particularly from the director, Andy. Toby swears in front of an audience of 300 children, mixing up his consonants with the line “ducks off sick” (you can guess where that goes).
The darker moments are played brilliantly by Tempest, who portrays David as a man who is struggling with his grief and anger. I found myself leaning forward in my seat during his angsty monologues, not wanting to miss a second. His fury is the foil to Leask’s enthusiastic Toby, who hopes to prove himself in a role that has cost the arms and legs of actors. You end up rooting for both David and Toby as they battle (physically, emotionally, and mentally) for the role of Wibble the Dragon. The conversations between David and Andy about their families work well, giving the show some of its most powerful moments while still remaining humorous. Shields treads the fine line between humor and tragedy quite well, especially for his first time writing solo.
“Have a good goodbye!”
Ultimately, Good Luck, Studio is a fantastic show that made me laugh the hardest that I have in quite a long time. The jokes are witty, the actors are perfectly cast in their roles, and you can truly escape into the crazy and colorful world of filming Wibble the Dragon. I do sincerely hope that Good Luck, Studio will make a return in the future, as it is a brilliant show that will be successful on the West End and beyond.
Good Luck, Studio ran at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre from October 7th to October 15th, Salisbury Playhouse from October 18th to November 5th, and then at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre from November 8th to November 12th, 2022.