Last Updated on February 25, 2020 by Fiona Maclean
A magical West End farce at the Vaudeville.
Fancy a night of fun and laughter with farcical slapstick humour and magic going horribly wrong? Then I can recommend heading to the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End for Magic Goes Wrong…you are sure to be thoroughly entertained.
Magic Goes Wrong is the latest brainchild of Mischief Theatre, they have been joined for this venture by legendary American comedy magic performers Penn and Teller, stars of the hit ITV show Fool Us which means that in amongst the tomfoolery there’s some pretty impressive magic to be seen. The show is co-produced by Hollywood big shot JJ Abrams, directed by Adam Meggido with some top wizardry tips from the show’s magic consultant Ben Hart, and a suitable zany set designed by Will Bowen.
Mischief Theatre began when Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields met at LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts) in 2008, sharing a flat together, whilst also writing and making shows with fellow students Charlie Russell, Nancy Zamit and Dave Hearn, basically group of talented friends having a lot of fun. They took their first show to Edinburgh Fridge in 2008.
Mischief has gone on to build a bone fide theatrical empire, their first success ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’, (a spin on backstage farce ‘Noises Off’) opened at the Old Red Lion Theatre in 2012 costing just £300, eight years later it has become a rip-roaring triumph, which has not only taken residence at the Duchess Theatre in the West End but also an open-ended run on off-Broadway. Their other hits include ‘The Comedy About a Bank Robbery’, (at the Criterion), the less acclaimed ‘Groan Ups’ (previously at the Vaudeville) and a BBC1 TV show in the form of ‘The Goes Wrong Show’, these guys are on a roll.
‘Magic Goes Wrong’ is not plot-driven, it’s performed in episodic style of a variety show and there’s no narrative to speak of. I thought it was rather over-long at two and a half hours but it definitely kept the audience happy.
Diffident magician Sophisticato (Henry Shields) gathers together an eclectic mix of pretty awful magic acts to perform at a charity magic gala he is throwing in his late father’s memory in aid of victims of magic disasters. You get the picture…and there’s not much attention to health and safety in Sophisticato’s show either, as performers and stagehands die at an alarming rate!
Henry Lewis’s marvellously pseudo-mentalist The Mind Mangler (think Faulty Towers) plays comically with the audience, he’s not one to get it right, but he commands their attention and they lap it up with frenzied laughter. His sidekick/flatmate Mickey (Jonathan Sayer) comes in a variety of guises, and Dave Hearn’s entertaining leather-clad Jonny Thunders styled The Blade makes for a poor man’s David Blane, he’s the show’s daredevil come walking disaster zone as he’s constantly losing limbs or is gruesomely impaled in one way or another.
German duo Bear (Nancy Zamit) and Spitzmaus (Bryony Corrigan) come well equipped with hammy accents and add a jovial spice along with some acrobatics, which they are not afraid to cheat at and a running gag of the bear on the loose. Eugenia (Roxy Faridany) potentially could be Sophisticato’s mother, but being sliced in half mid illusion means she could have met a grisly end (not with the bear). There’s also some great audience participation which always adds to the jeopardy and some ticklingly funny moments.
Magic royalty performers David Copperfield and Derren Brown (both of whom donated their fees to Great Ormond Street Hospital) make very funny satellite appearances. But even with the help of superstars the luckless Sophisticato whose best act by far was his dead doves, fails to reach his fundraising targets, in fact, he’s running at a loss…
A thoroughly silly and entertaining night out. Mischief Theatre has done it again.
MAGIC GOES WRONG
London WC2R 0NH
Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30 pm
Saturday at 2:30 pm
Sunday at 2:00pm & 7:00 pm
Booking until 30 August 2020
All photos credit Robert Day.
Looking for somewhere to eat pre or post-theatre? 38-50 Covent Garden gets our vote. We also love the food at One Aldwych, a boutique Hotel on the Aldwych. Try Indigo at One Aldwych for their gluten and dairy-free menu or Eneko for innovative Basque cuisine.
Also showing in London at the moment, Ben Elton’s fabulous Upstart Crow at the Gielgud Theatre