Magic… Mystery… The mind (mind, mind, mind, mind).
Mischief theatre has done it again, another theatrical success riding on the gimmick of ‘things not going right,’ Magic Goes Wrong really does what it says on the tin. Co-written by Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, and Jonathan Sayer, the three founders of Mischief Theatre worked closely with magic mind benders Penn and Teller to create their latest hype.
The magic in the show is as expected, a mixture of classic tricks going wrong and things going wrong turning into brilliant magic, it is often hard to tell if the title or the show came first. Based on the premise of a fundraising show for magic performers who have been injured in the trade, the mash up off distinctive styles of magicians really has found the caricatures of the world of wizardry with a wand. From the German duo Bär and Spitzmaus, played by Chloe Tannenbaum and Jocelyn Prah, representing contortionists and acrobatic magic to Kiefer Moriarty’s portrayal of ‘The Blade’ the more danger heavy style of magic and stunts, the actors each secured the audience's attention with their portrayal of these archetypes.
Leading the show was the incredible Sam Hill as The Great Sophisticato, or the son of the Great Sophisticato, who was our compare for the night. Sam was able to keep the audience's attention flowing with his high energy and engagement with the audience, though his magic tricks were often that found of a children’s magician, he played up to this character with great intensity. The star amongst stars was Ricky Oakley, who I was surprised to find out was the understudy for The Mind Mangler. Oakley was able to not only fill the boots of the role, but also go above and beyond to secure the audiences love for him and his character, the best section being a moment of audience interaction which Oakley surfed through confidently as though he had been performing the role every night since the run began.
Magic Goes Wrong is a phenomenal show that showed a lot of knowledge of the history of the Magic Circle, of which Tommy Cooper would be proud! Comparing this show to the catalogue of other shows in Mischief’s arsenal places this show is low in the rankings in my opinion, especially when you consider the financial success of this show over Groan Ups, it is certainly the weaker of the two. My biggest concern with the show is the lack of narrative structure within the show, the loose connection of a variety show, though fitting for the genre, does not support the development of the characters or the show, where Mischief have previously shown great strength in writing plots to build their farcical antics around. This is not to detract from the show, it is a wonderful, exciting, and clever show, however, it feels like the story has been led by the tricks and stunts of Penn and Teller, opposed to being led by the writing genius of Lewis, Shields and Sayer.
The show is a must see, with an eclectic mix of quick change, contortion, escapology, danger, mind reading and most of all, and the reason everyone should see the show, COMEDY! From the classic woman sawn in half, to a modern version of swords in a box and escaping from a locked box filled with water, this show really does have it all, packaged in an exciting set of lights, smoke, and glitter.
Performed at the Birmingham Hippodrome, Thursday 26th of May 2022, this tour has now ended, with new dates coming soon.