Review; Magic Goes Wrong, Vaudeville Theatre
- Credit: Archant
The boys behind the ‘goes wrong’ hits have mostly pulled off a new trick mindmelding their slapstick with geniunely dazzling magic from Penn & Teller
The 'goes wrong' boys have teamed up with legendary American illusionists Penn&Teller to devise a magical twist on their usual schtick of ritual humiliation and impeccably-timed disaster.
And if the result doesn't have the comic momentum and narrative drive that has powered their previous hits that are still going strong in the West End - it's a consistently funny night out with some impressive conjuring thrown in.
We're at a fundraiser for illusionists who have expired in the line of duty.
Sophisticato is a magician manqué, forever banned from touching his father's props until one day pater is crushed beneath them and the son inherits his mantle. A flashing totaliser reminds us just how little has been raised, and lightbulb letters overhead sputter to spell out occasional rude messages.
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The episodic scenes include Dave Hearn's leather-clad David Blaine-esque daredevil The Blade whose giant machismo is repeatedly punctured by the horrific props he's impaled upon.
Henry Shield's Sophisticato is a gloomy angel of death, bungling tricks like sawing the lady in half or and freeing an accomplice from a locked water tank. And as for his father's trick with the live doves…
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Best of all is Henry Lewis' Mind Mangler whose portentous claims about his heightened senses are continually scuppered by failure and a stage crew bent on sabotage. It builds across several scenes - full of audience participation - into a Fawlty-esque frenzy of laughter.
The weakest material goes to a tedious gag about Jonathan Sayer's hopeless stooge and a pair of German acrobats Bar and Spitzmaus who nevertheless kick off a decent running gag about a vicious bear.
Between the slapstick and choreographed incompetence, Penn&Teller and Magic consultant Ben Hart have woven in some genuine theatrical wizardry, from vanishing cabinets to unfeasible card tricks and someone shot from a gun.
Considering they were performing above Islington's Old Red Lion pub only eight years ago, the Mischief Theatre crew have done well for themselves.
And on a dismal January night, watching their superhuman efforts reduced by all too human failings is somehow a tonic.