“Oh, Inspector! I can’t take it anymore!” wails one of the hapless characters, an amateur performer enacting a shambles of a mystery drama, in “The Play That Goes Wrong,” the unutterably silly British farce that has now labored its way onto Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre.
I knew just how the poor woman felt.
This knockabout comedy, in which a troupe of beleaguered but indomitable performers scrambles around the stage, trying to put across a classic English manor house mystery as chaos erupts around them, does not qualify as one of the deadliest nights I’ve spent at a Broadway theater. But with its relentless working of a handful of hoary gags, it amply proved that the law of diminishing returns applies to the mechanics of farce perhaps more than it does to any other theatrical genre.