magic goes wrong review

Review: Magic Goes Wrong at the Apollo Theatre

Review: Magic Goes Wrong at the Apollo Theatre

A review: Magic Goes Wrong. Two hours of top-quality entertainment.  

IMAGES CREDIT: Helen Maybanks


Mischief Theatre’s Goes Wrong franchise could potentially feel like old news in some time, but this time is not now. Right now, Magic Goes Wrong at the Apollo Theatre feels like two hours of good fun.

The story is, inescapably, as simple as it gets – the young and hitherto unknown Sophisticato (quaintly comic Shane David-Joseph) attempts to follow in his father’s footsteps and become the famous magician by leading a group of mishaps whose shtick is that, well, nothing ever works out. And so, we’re seeing a long string of loosely connected jokes and acts that don’t exactly go as planned. It really is as straightforward as this – but surprisingly effective. The frenetic pace is infected with shrewdness and even whimsicality at times. Hovering on the brink of ultimate cringe, Magic Goes Wrong somehow never falls into that trap and remains thoroughly entertaining from the very first minute to the very last, as even impropriety and slapstick retain a certain level of intelligence.

The ending twist is uncomplicated and pronounced in a fashion by no manner oblique – but at the point of its reveal, the talented performers have already won the audience over, and so it is enthusiastically welcomed with appropriate gasps, cheers and whistles.

The result is joyful – actors’ comic and slapstick skills are remarkable. The best jokes no doubt are delivered by Mischief Theatre’s own Henry Lewis as Mind Mangler who hits me slab-dab in the ear as being fantastically – and naturally – comical in his part-congenial, part-sardonic interactions with the audience (planted or not – I didn’t really care). But his fellow castmates aren’t behind. Kazeem Tosin-Amore as the diabolically skillless The Blade (“how does he do it without hurting himself!”) is uproarious and borderline messy in a somewhat naïve manner, particularly when confronting his assistant and not-so-secret nemesis, Martina (fiery Nancy Zamit). Mother-daughter duo Madame Escapade and Peg (Jane Milligan and Louise Beresford) have their own sweet – alright, cheesy – little subplot. Scott Hunter as the stunning and talented assistant Mel was easily the audience’s favourite.

There is an inexplicable charm about all the performers in Mischief Theatre, but what is most striking perhaps is how they have managed to retain their fringe-university-troupe vibes throughout the entire Goes Wrong franchise, charging headlong into every new rendition with fervour, zeal and enthusiasm. Or so does it look on stage. Although the production looks and feels like a holiday task, needless to say, the effort it required from the team on- and backstage is truly impressive. Freakish set design by Will Bowen and colourful, sparkly costumes Roberto Surace are commendable and play an important part in weaving all the acts and tricks into one logical whole. It is all tapestry, really – a tapestry of the happiest jokes, witty humour and likeable characters – with Mischief Theatre and Penn & Teller as the skilled weavers.

Magic Goes Wrong runs at the Apollo Theatre from 21 October 2021 to 27 February 2022.