BWW Review: MAGIC GOES WRONG, Vaudeville Theatre
Mischief Theatre continue their epic takeover of the West End, with their brand new show all about magic going terribly wrong. This time the company have collaborated with superstar magicians Penn & Teller; two people who are at the top of their game, and normally headline their own show in Las Vegas. The whole evening is a delight from start to finish - something you come to expect at a Mischief night.
Continuing their residency in the Vaudeville Theatre, this show replaces Groan Ups - a piece that steered a bit away from the usual form that the company take. Instead of relying on their classic things going wrong, the aforementioned play offered more of a linear narrative, which divided critics but was something I personally loved. It still contained lots of humour and delight, but was also accompanied by a rather heartwarming and touching story.
Magic Goes Wrong is an evening of grand illusion. A hapless gang of magicians are presenting a charity event, and you guessed it, things don't quite go to plan. It shouldn't be a surprise; the clue is in the title. But in the failure is a meticulous detail. The team knows exactly what they are doing here; they have mastered ways to get the audience to be in hysterics.
The company plays well together, but also jostle with the audience comfortably. The moments when we're spoken to are equally as jokes as the planned antics, and these occasions allow the ensemble to improvise. You expect a Mischief show to be funny and it doesn't disappoint. Featuring the majority of the founding members, the show contains exuberance from start to finish.
There's frantic dancing, jazzy effects, multiple costume changes, dead doves (fake ones, don't worry), cracking lights, glitter, a rubbish stooge, and a few - many - on stage accidents, as well as many other things. However, and perhaps best of all, not every magic trick actually goes wrong. There are moments when someone disappears and then rejoins you somewhere else, and you think 'how did they get there?' It's really exciting stuff, and it's clear that some of that Penn & Teller magic has rubbed off.
Thing is, I'm a believer, so if someone does a trick well, that's me hooked. It seems the same can be said for the entirety of the audience, who cheer, laugh and get involved as much as possible. It should be noted that Penn & Teller don't actually appear on stage, but that doesn't matter in the slightest because you're not here to see perfect magic. You want to see mess, and you crave madness. The company deliver.
It seems like Mischief Theatre have created another success, and have cemented themselves as permanent features in London's West End. Who knows what they'll get up to next; whatever it is, it's going to go so wrong, but feel so very right.
Photo: Robert Day