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  • Writer's pictureBecky Wallis

Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle - Exeter Northcott - Review

When it comes to comedy in the world of theatre, there is one company that continues to prove themselves to be at the very top of their game, and that is Mischief Comedy. With such successes as The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery and Mischief Movie Night already under their belts, 2022 saw the company branching out and trying new things, only adding to their success story. Magic Goes Wrong has enjoyed two west end runs and a popular UK Tour, and during their return to the Edinburgh Fringe last year, Mischief took one of the shows much loved characters and gave him a solo production, putting the Mind Mangler front and centre in Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle.

Played by Mischief original cast member Henry Lewis, The Mind Mangler declares himself to be a master of the mind (mind, mind), able to control the mind and know everything about his audience members. After years of struggling, he’s signed up with talent agent Bob Kojack and he’s out on a big UK Tour, ready to wow with his powerful senses. But can he impress? Whilst the mind mangler may not be the master he claims to be, Lewis truly is the master of improvisation and audience interaction. He is able to easily bounce off of audience’s responses, delighting in finding the fun in the obscure jobs of those picked out. He takes everything in his stride and makes sure to involve everyone in the fun, having the audience hanging on his every word.

Jonathan Sayer, also an original cast member of Mischief, also returns to the Magic Goes Wrong world as the Stooge, a perfectly normal audience member who definitely doesn’t know the Mind Mangler. Lewis and Sayer are a wonderful double act, with a chemistry that only comes with having worked together for a number of years. Improvising comes naturally and the audience were loving it. Sayer was able to effortlessly bring earlier audience comments into the narrative and delighted everyone with every appearance.

For the run at the Edinburgh Fringe, this had been an hour-long show. For this UK Tour it has been extended with hilarious effect, doubling its running time with further sketches and even bigger magic tricks. Those who saw the production during its 2021/22 run in London will also recognise Tom Wainwright, who takes on a stagehand/camera man role here, interacting with the audience throughout and providing video close ups on many of the scenes. With so much of the show dependent on the reactions of the audience, it was a delight to see the surprise and joy in the faces of Lewis, Sayer, and Wainwright as they decided what to do with that they were given on the spot.

Of course, The mind mangler and the stooge come from Magic Goes Wrong, and as the title suggests, things go wrong. Tricks go array, props misbehave, everything you would expect of a show in Mischief’s globally adored goes wrong universe. It’s laugh out loud funny, full of unexpected moments and shock humour, but this is a magic show after all, and this production is crammed full of moments that will leave you wondering how on earth did they do that?! It truly is magical.

Overall, Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle is a hilariously clever show that takes the loved Magic Goes Wrong characters of the Mind Mangler and the stooge and gives them a chance to shine. Lewis and Sayer are able to easily carry a two hour show between them, and I am sure that the audience would have happily watched more. A must see production for comedy and magic fans


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