Review: Magic Goes Wrong. Nottingham Theatre Royal. (touring)

Magic Goes Wrong 23.03.22

Magic Goes Wrong tours Nottingham’s Theatre Royal

‘A magical evening indeed’

You may be familiar with their antics by now, but don’t expect the Mischief crew to ease up on the chaos. Mishaps are happening before you’ve even sat down for the Disaster Magix Charity Fundraiser; don’t worry though, the stage crew are doing their best to fix them…

Each act is wildly different, and the cast is so tremendous together it’s impossible to pick a standout performance. Valerie Cutko is wonderful as Eugenia, elegant patron of the arts  in some fabulous costumes and Daniel Anthony steals scenes as ditzy audience plant.

Sophisticato, played by Sam Hill, holds the show together while he can barely hold himself together, contributing an emotive edge to the farce. Keifer Moriarty is the epitome of “the show must go on” in his stunt heavy, hyperactive performance as The Blade. Jocelyn Prah and Chloe Tannenbaum shine as duo Spitzmaus and Bar, adding flare and transforming their radiant smiles with increasing amounts of silent sass as the levels of incompetence are revealed. Mind Mangler, Rory Fairbairn, holds the audience captive with every entrance and exit onto Will Bowen’s spectacular set.

Beyond the glittery curtains galore, there are contraptions and scene changes that are magic in themselves.

It may have been an arranged marriage as Penn describes, but collaborating with Penn and Teller was a stroke of genius,  the writing is impeccable throughout. They have a knack for recurring gags – malfunctioning lights for one – without overdoing it. With a mixture of physical comedy, unfortunate word choices, and plenty of drama, every joke lands and lingers just long enough.

The concept may sound formulaic and some tricks are predictable – mousetraps on stage were never going to end well – but some moments come completely left field leaving the audience wide-eyed. The stakes escalate in the second act, and I’m truly incredulous at both the magic and also how any actors actually escaped unharmed.

Lines are blurry between the rehearsed and spontaneous with some credible thumps and much of the audience participation not going entirely to plan. You know it’s convincingly bad when you’re still musing in the car home whether they elaborately rehearsed all audience interactions, or if you were surrounded by the most enthusiastically unhelpful crowd; I’m fairly certain the Mind Mangler was on the verge of real tears at one point.

I’m not sure what it says about our society that these schadenfreude productions go down so well, but I for one can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Magic Goes Wrong is showing at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Sunday 3rd April. Buy tickets here, or find out when the tour will be coming to you


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