Lim’s scenic design for ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ in Cleveland also a teaching tool and alumni opportunity

Roger Coda
A view of the dilapidated set of “The Play That Goes Wrong” as it falls apart toward the end of the performance.

A view of the dilapidated set of “The Play That Goes Wrong” as it falls apart toward the end of the performance.

The artistic skills and vision of Department of Theatre and Dance Associate Professor of Scenic Design Czerton Lim are in full view in “The Play That Goes Wrong,” a popular show that’s obviously a major challenge to stage, at the Cleveland Play House. 

“The Play That Goes Wrong” requires a significant amount of advanced technologies – falling walls and platforms with actors, scripted and choreographed action involving falling, as well as resilient props and furniture,” according to Mr. Lim. In mounting the show twice, he’s brought two B.F.A. Theatre and Design graduates on board as associate designers.

Lim shares the experiences of working with the alums with his current students. Donald “Donnie” Woodard, ’22, worked on the Cleveland production. Meredith “Mer” Platt, ’21, assisted Lim the first time he designed the show, in 2022, at Syracuse Stage.

Czerton Lim portrait
Czerton Lim

“Anytime I have a professional design, I usually try to hire a former student to serve as my associate. One, they already know me and I know them from classes they've taken with me, so they also know what my expectations are,” Czerton explained, “and two, it's an opportunity for them to have the experience of working outside of academia and be able to network themselves.”

Ms. Platt is a freelance theatre designer in New York City, recently working on “Sleep No More.” Mr. Woodard is affiliated with the Kavinoky Theatre and Theatre of Youth, both in Buffalo, NY, as a designer and props supervisor, when not working on Czerton’s productions.

“The Play That Goes Wrong” takes place in the interior of a stately manor house that was common in England during the 1920s and 1930s for a murder mystery play, but as the show progresses and mishaps and fiascos compound themselves, the set begins to literally fall apart. 

“Things on walls and curtains and valances fall off, doorknobs come off doors when doors aren't opening and ultimately fall off their hinges, furniture starts to move when you least expect it, and then walls and the second-story platform actually fall along with the chandelier above at the end of the show,” Lim explained.

“And all of this happens with and around the actors, so the cues have to happen exactly as planned and happen safely each and every time,” he noted.

Lim uses his work on the show to illustrate examples of collaboration in several classes he teaches, including THEA 326: Scene Design, THEA 426: Scene Design II and THEA 303: Rendering Techniques I.

The play has a three-week run that ends March 3 in the Allen Theatre, one of three venues of the Cleveland Play House.

Lim also serves as the managing producer of the Walter Gloor Mainstage Series that presents performances in the Alice E. Bartlett Theatre and Robert W. Marvel Theatre.

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