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Theatre Review: ‘Magic Goes Wrong’ (Tour)

by Paul Heath

As well as being re-installed in London this month, Mischief Theatre’s hugely popular show Magic Goes Wrong, co-created with magic icons Penn & Teller, makes its was across the UK on a new tour. An entertaining affair, this crowd-pleaser arrives in local theatres as they re-open following the pandemic lockdown, and is sure to delight most with its continuous brand of unique humour and side-splitting stunts.

Revolving around a fictional charity fund-raising event to benefit magician’s injured in the line of duty, the show is compered by chief magician, Sophisticato (Sam Hill) who has assembled a motley crew of illusionists to bank some cash, all in memory of his deceased father (who succumbed to a rather amusing accident involving magic props crashing down on him whilst he was asleep in bed).

Alongside our maestro is the likes of The Blade (Kiefer Moriarty) – a kind of Criss Angel alternative, seemingly accident-prone magician complete with [Nic] Cage-like screen rage who shouts more than talks to his audience; The Mind Mangler (Rory Fairbairn) – a mind reader with five specific powers, and also Spitzmaus (Jocelyn Prah) and Bär (Chloe Tannenbaum), a pair of German performers – one an acrobat, and the other, well, not so much. The 2 hour-plus show sees each act perform a number of tricks, all multiple times, all complete with the ‘Goes Wrong’ trademark wit and hapless brand of humour.

‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ and the many productions that have followed have their own kind of comedy – and they have been hugely successful and clearly found an audience. Fans of that brand will no doubt will love this. It is genuinely funny in places, particularly in the stronger second half. Stand outs are Fairbairn’s ‘Mind Mangler’ purely because of his interaction with the audience, while Moriarty as The Blade also delights and his illusions which, of course, largely ‘go wrong’, are both inventive, surprisingly and massively entertaining.

However, some parts, I felt, didn’t work quite as well. I found the jokes to be a little grating in places and some of the magic a little unremarkable. It sometimes seems to struggle to balance the comedy and illusion aspects of the show. I am a huge fan of the art of magic and personally wanted to be wowed more by the illusions, and I also really wanted to laugh more than I did. Most of that criticism applies to the first half which I walked away from a little more underwhelmed than I expected to. As I said, the gears shift a little in the superior, better-paced second half, and I ended up walking away quite satisfied with my evening of entertainment.

The audience – a packed Mayflower Theatre on a Tuesday night in October – lapped up proceedings, and the clearly talented cast were met with a standing ovation come curtain close. Another solid show to welcome audiences back to theatres.

Magic Goes Wrong

Paul Heath

Stage show


Fans of Mischief Theatre will love this solid production which, save from a few minor underwhelming set-pieces, entertains throughout. A fulfilling, crowd pleaser well worth your time.


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