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Magic Goes Wrong at York Theatre Royal

 When I was younger, I’d adore magic. I was obsessed with Dynamo ‘Magician Impossible’, the shows hosted on CBBC displaying magic tricks and then explaining the secrets behind them; the wonder of going to a stage show and marvelling at circus acts and hoping to be picked for audience participation in a show-stopping trick. Magic has always held a special nostalgia for me and so when going to see the York Theatre Royal production of Mischief Theatre and Penn and Teller’s ‘Magic Gone  Wrong’, I was in pieces laughing the entire show. Whether you’re a fan of magic or hate it to your very core, this is the play to see.  

Its originality stems from that it takes the idea of a magic show and parodies it on stage. The host/magician ‘Sophisticato’ is ironically anything but sophisticated, struggling within the shadows of his late father, subtly yet amusingly gleeful in his death. Then there’s ‘Daredevil the Blade’ who views himself to be invincible and unfazed by pain in the most hilariously obnoxious way, the German sisters ‘Bear & Spitzmaus’ who try to introduce luxury and sultriness in a wittingly clumsy manner. And then, of course, my favourite type of magician, following the likes of Darren Brown and Dynamo in psychology and wonderment, ‘Mind Mangler’ who is routinely bullied by the tech team and fails to execute any psychological trick with class. 

Picture credit: Mischief Theatre

 Each element of this play fit wonderfully into a parody of magic shows. It had the premise of money being raised for charity framing the show yet unfortunately, money only gets lost. Each magic trick is executed perfectly poorly, the punch lines in slapstick having the audience in an uproar of laughter. The set and design were well done, achieving that cheap element of a run-down theatre, however, done with great taste. A sign in flashing lights spelt ‘Disasters in Magic Charity’  and even before the show officially begins, there is a great gag of one of the production team trying to fit a fallen letter back on.  

Picture credit: Mischief Theatre

 It was extremely immersive. I sat there feeling as though I had genuinely seen a magic show and before my very eyes, everything was falling apart in the most lighthearted manner. The acting was so spot on that the characters felt like real people desperate to impress an audience. There was a wonderful rapport with the audience, inducing further laughter and involvement with the show. All in all, I left the production feeling extremely warm and happy, and my mood brightened. I’d definitely go to see it again and I look forward to what they do next in the future. 

Written by Camille Orwin

Magic Goes Wrong by Mischief and Penn&Teller is on UK Tour.

Upcoming performances are in Dublin, Cornwall and Birmingham.

More information is available and tickets can be booked here.