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Get ready to experience the magic of the West End in a weird, wacky and wonderful way. Mischief Theatre have conjured up a brand new show at Vaudeville Theatre called Magic Goes Wrong. Following in the footsteps of madcap productions like The Play That Goes Wrong, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery and Peter Pan Goes Wrong, the theatre company’s latest endeavour was created in partnership with another equally outrageous and innovative team: Penn & Teller. The legendary Las Vegas magic duo who are known for defying the laws of science and good taste were more than happy to help continue Mischief Theatre’s love of mishaps. And you’ll get plenty of them – in every shape and form imaginable – with Magic Goes Wrong.
In Magic Goes Wrong a troupe of lovable but incompetent magicians set out to perform a charity show that’s being televised on the Magic Channel. They’re attempting to raise funds to benefit all the people – magicians, stagehands and unfortunate spectators – who’ve suffered injuries from accidents of magic.
Led by Sophisticato, whose father was crushed by two-and-half tonnes of “magic apparatus”, the hapless gang find themselves getting into accidents that soon spiral out of control, as does their fundraising target.
Directed by Adam Meggido, Magic Goes Wrong first premiered at The Lowry in Salford last August before opening at Vaudeville Theatre in December 2019. The original cast have all reprised their roles for this West End run.
Henry Shields has the lead as Sophisticato, a tuxedo-wearing magician who wants to honour his late father but also hugely resents him.
Henry Lewis is The Mind Mangler, a jaded mentalist who’s been headlining the Travelodge on the A40. He’s tormented by the teleprompter operator who keeps feeding him insulting lines.
Dave Hearn plays The Blade, a macho magician who is fearless when it comes to death-defying illusions involving bullets, blades and fire.
Often stealing the show as German siblings-turned-circus duo Bear & Spitzmaus are Nancy Zamit and Bryony Corrigan.
Rounding out the cast are Roxy Faridany as Eugenia, a stunning assistant, and Jonathan Sayer as Mickey, an audience plant.
The ensemble includes Natasha Culley, Lauren Ingram, Laurence Pears, Sydney K Smith and Liv Spencer.
There’s so much that’s right about Magic Goes Wrong.
At the top of the list is the fantastic cast, and thankfully the show’s format allows each of its principal incompetents to shine.
Sophisticato is anything but sophisticated, plus he harbours a lot of anger toward his father who cared more for magic than raising a child. Shields plays Sophisticato with a depth that’s both poignant and hilarious – especially when it comes to his unusual sleight-of-hand display with doves.
Clad in awkwardly fitting, shimmering metallic leotards with fur-rimmed hoods and tails, Bear & Spitzmaus are a funny sight to see. Watching them dance and show off questionable contortionist skills while uttering phrases like “magic magic honk honk” will definitely test your abilities to hold it together.
Whether he’s throwing a knife, demonstrating the fastest right hand in show business or ripping off one of countless shirts, The Blade continues the cavalcade of crazy antics in Magic Goes Wrong.
And then there’s The Mind Mangler. What can you say about a man with the abilities to taste people’s names, smell their jobs, hear playing cards and touch the dead? Lewis is masterful when it comes to interacting with the audience and his tremendously funny mind reading adds another layer of humour to the show.
Whether you’re a fan of illusionists or not, these blundering characters are infectious. You can’t help but admire how they put their hearts into their performances and push on when most would give up.
What’s more, the ambitious grand illusions – from Heretic Burned at the Stake to tricks that involve being sawed, stabbed or entombed alive – are not only completely unpredictable, but often tend to be as amazing as they are amusing.
“Joyously silly and entirely wonderful” – Stephen Fry
“I’ll be laughing into next week” ★★★★★ – The Sun
“Spellbinding romp by the masters of mischief” ★★★★ – Daily Mail
“An evening of grand illusion… a delight from start to finish” ★★★★ – Broadway World
“Fringe whizz-kids turned theatrical world-leaders” ★★★★ – The Telegraph
Magic Goes Wrong is booking until 30 August 2020 at London’s Vaudeville Theatre.
The show’s run time is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission.
Although created in collaboration with Penn & Teller, the magic duo will not be appearing on stage.
Tickets to see Magic Goes Wrong are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.
Photography by Robert Day