They say that laughter is the best medicine, and when it comes to finding something to give you just the dose that you need, you can do wrong by picking Mischief Theatre to be your doctor. The team behind hit shows ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’, ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ and BBC’s ‘The Goes Wrong Show’ blessed the West End with not one but two new productions during their 2019 residency at the Vaudeville Theatre with ‘Magic Goes Wrong’ proving to be one of their most ambitious and most hilarious shows to date.
The only Mischief production to have two alternate versions, ‘Magic Goes Wrong’ is currently out touring the UK in its original 2019 version form with the updated version having recently played its last (hopefully just for now) performance in the glittering lights of the West End with each providing laugh a minute chaos that will leave you smiling like the Cheshire cat.
‘Magic Goes Wrong’ tells the story of Sophisticato (Shane David-Joseph) as he tries his absolute best to host and run a successful fundraiser for the disasters in magic charity, but with good famous magicians sadly unable to take part, he is forced to fill his show with anyone he can find, including a number of disastrous acts that his late father once crossed paths with. From The Mind Mangler, an apparent mind reader with maybe a slight barely noticeable short temper (Henry Lewis), mother and daughter escapology act Madame Escapade (Jane Milligan) and Peg (Louise Beresford), an endurance artist with ‘no fear’ called The Blade (Kazeem Tosin-Amore) and glamourous assistants Martina (Nancy Zamit) and Mel (Scott Hunter). Throw in patron of the magical arts Eugenia (Genevieve Nicole) and a couple of troublesome stagehands who love nothing more than to mess with the acts (Steph De Whalley and Christian James) and it’s a recipe for hilarity.
This show takes a big step away from Mischief’s previous productions, pushing the boundaries of disaster comedy. Whilst fans of the company may be familiar with the works of the fictional ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’, stars of the other ‘goes wrong’ shows, and their falls, forgotten dialogue, set malfunctions and everything that comes with it, ‘Magic Goes Wrong’ introduces new characters and new ways of things going wrong with elements of shock and danger.
Shane David-Joseph’s Sophisticato is determined, passionate and expressive, throwing everything he has at trying to make the show go right. His patience is well and truly tested as the show goes on and his fundraiser unravels, much to the delight of the audience. As the danger loving Blade, Kazeem Tosin-Amore is laugh a minute, with his character willing to risk everything to get a trick right. Taking part in perhaps some of the most dangerous parts of the show, he truly captures the audience’s attention and imagination. His interactions with Nancy Zamit’s assistant Martina are believable and hilarious as they compete for the spotlight and Martina pulls tricks on the endurance artist.
Scott Hunter’s Mel got a great deal of cheers as they tried their best to help out with tricks spiralling out of control whilst fighting for their moment in the limelight whilst Jane Milligan and Louise Beresford’s mother and daughter escapology act delighted the audience with both their tricks and the tale of Peg having to decide between joining her mother’s act or heading back to university. Genevieve Nicole’s Eugenia brings a touch of grace to proceedings, oozing glamour whilst not being afraid to show her cheeky side as she winds up Sophisticato. But it is perhaps Henry Lewis’ Mind Mangler that got some of the biggest laughs of the night, interacting directly with the audience throughout with hilarious results. From making jokes about people’s jobs to gradually losing his temper with his assistant Mickey (Sydney Smith), the laughter was infectious. In his act 2 roulette scene, he had the audience in raptures, responding to the audiences’ chants of ‘Do it, Do it’ by asking how we would like it if he turned up at our work places and chanted, whilst laughing about a tiny mirror on a stick with a dental nurse in the audience and declaring that we were the weirdest bunch of people he had ever met. Lewis proves that he is indeed a master of improvisation, naturally bouncing off the response of the audience and using it to make his character all the more wonderful.
It is said that the audience can make or break a performance, and having an audience that is responsive, engaged and 100% there in the moment can really lift a show. This was my third visit to ‘Magic Goes Wrong’ and this was by far the best audience I have had during a visit. They laughed from start to end, cheered and whooped throughout and well and truly got involved with every little bit of interaction that they could. The cheers and applause that erupted from the audience when I was picked on by the Mind Mangler and responded that my job is to write theatre reviews is a memory that will stay with me forever.
In conclusion, Mischief’s ‘Magic Goes Wrong’ is an hilarious, madcap and genius piece of theatre that will have you laughing from start to end. It’s a tribute to both the golden age of comedy and of magic, blending old school vaudeville shows with disastrous mistakes and shocks. And the show may be called 'Magic Goes Wrong' but don't be fooled as it also includes some real successful magic tricks that will leave you wondering how on earth they made it happen. Whilst this version of the production may now be closed in London (hopefully it will come back one day), the original 2019 version of the show is currently touring the UK until May. Don’t miss out. https://www.mischiefcomedy.com/magicgoeswrong-uk-tour/uk-tour/tour-dates
Images found via Google, not my own