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Review: MAGIC GOES WRONG, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

The Penn & Teller x Mischief Theatre collaboration comes to Edinburgh!

Magic Goes Wrong

Magic Goes WrongMischief Theatre has brought their characteristic "Goes Wrong" spin to several shows on our stages and screens. Their latest collaboration with magicians Penn & Teller, Magic Goes Wrong, is making a stop in Edinburgh at the Festival Theatre as part of their UK tour.

The show opened in London as part of Mischief Theatre's year-long residency at the Vaudeville Theatre and reopened at the Apollo Theatre for a brief run post-lockdown, as well as launching this UK tour in tow.

There is the usual pre-show chaos seen in other Mischief productions so do get to the theatre early! The audience finds themselves at the "Disasters in Magic Charity Fundraiser", MC'd by the "Great Sophisticato" (or his son, rather, played by Sam Hill), who has organised the event in memory of his father. Gathering a motley crew of acts, the aim of the evening is to raise money to support this rather niche charity.

Hill is delightfully enthusiastic as Sophisticato, eager to continue the legacy of his (albeit unsupportive) father, truly an embodiment of the phrase "the show must go on". His determined dove act is one of the highlights of the show. Valerie Cutko is wonderfully poised and glamorous as Eugenia and Kiefer Moriarty is suitably unhinged as "The Blade" - those of a squeamish disposition may want to shield their eyes for some of his act!

Rory Fairbairn's initially deadpan performance as psychic, the Mind Mangler becomes delightfully more exasperated as the night goes on - a word of warning for people in the front few rows, you will be involved in this show! Without spoiling anything, Daniel Anthony is also endearingly innocent in the role of Mickey.

A slight change from the lineup in the most recent West End run, Chloe Tannenbaum and Jocelyn Prah play the ambitious German duo, "Bar und Spitzmaus", their rivalry and scene-stealing moments on stage are just a joy to watch.

Will Bowen's set design is a dazzling array of archways, which in itself plays a part of the jokes on stage, as does David Howe's sparkling lighting design. Roberto Surace's costumes suit each character perfectly, from Sophisticato's black attire to Eugenia's glittering ballgowns.

Duncan McClean's video and projection design echos the live camera work used at other magic shows, and Adam Meggido's direction ensures the most is made of every gag. Steve Brown's music is suitably ominous and dramatic and Paul Groothuis' sound design ensures we hear everything we need to hear both on- and off-stage.

The writing by Penn Jillette, Teller and the Mischief trio Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields has a nice mix of classic Mischief chaos, with the delightful unpredictability of which tricks go right, which ones go wrong, and even some that seemingly go wrong but work out right again. The odd scene loses momentum with this particular audience but the scenes are short enough to keep things moving, with plenty of recurring jokes to keep the laughter going.

Whether you like magic, Mischief shows, or both, this latest offering from Mischief Theatre is bound to make you gasp and giggle.

Magic Goes Wrong at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, until 16 April

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