404 Strand, Covent Garden, London WC2R 0NH 0330 333 4814
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A charity magic show, Mischief Theatre, what could go right?
Penn and Teller assist on a new script from the famous comedy team. Please note that unless something goes wrong, Penn and Teller will NOT appear in this production.
(seen at the afternoon performance on 12th January 2020)
This was always going to be a tough one for the monkey. A life-long, die-hard Penn & Teller fan, who has seen masses of their output over the years and rates them simply the best.
Then there’s Mischief Theatre, who created two of the best slapstick comedies it has ever seen in the West End. This then, has the anticipation of a royal UK / USA marriage – just who would lead, and will independence be sought further down the line? Yes, the monkey can do topical humour with the worst of them.
What we get is a charity magic show in which the cast make Sooty look like Paul Daniels. The tricks (one almost in its entirety), are almost all straight out of the P&T warehouse. Weaving it together is a Lewis / Sayer / Shields and P&T script, mostly repeating everything Mischief do so well. Sight, physical and verbal jokes flow even as the magic segments become ever more desperate and painful for their exponents.
It’s an uneven evening in the end. The absolute highlight is a very beautiful dove routine by Sohisticato (Henry Shields). Returning Mischief to their roots, it should remind them just how their success came about. The beauty of their first two plays was that they wrote them and were delighted at subsequent laughter. Since then, there has been more emphasis instead on trying to “write funny things.” Shields playing straight and with sincerity is the secret, and hopefully they will remember and return to it more often.
Henry Lewis's improvisation also scores, particularly in the second – tighter – half of the show as “Mind Mangler.” A victim of both foil Brian (Jonathan Sayer on Ferris Bueller form) and the British audience who – at this performance, and probably all of them – take an “I’m Spartacus” attitude to him.
Given too much stage time only because they are under-used, Spitzmaus (Bryony Corrigan) and Nancy Zamit (Bar) generate the laughs they can with their thin material. Vital to the plot, but not really given enough to do. Still, Zamit’s cones alone are comedy gold, and that isn't a euphemism.
Also worth mention are David Hearn’s imploding “The Blade,” straight out of any West End magic show of the last few years and lending most of the danger to proceedings; likewise Roxy Faridany’s slimly written Eugenia does well opening the show and moving the story along. Finally, do arrive early, as you won’t want to miss Natasha Culley’s quest.
Even if it does echo previous “Goes Wrong” outings a little too frequently, much of the craft remains, and shows certain signs of a new maturity in construction.
For the moment, it’s 3 (and a half ) bananas from the monkey, and it suspects as things are edited during this run, there’s a 4 banana show here come May. If they survive 8 shows a week, that is...
I won’t say more other than it’s Mischief’s familiar something goes wrong routine with some actual magic thrown in. I didn’t think it was as strong as ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ but maybe their whole ‘goes wrong’ act is starting to feel a bit predictable when you’ve seen their other productions. There were quite a lot of laughs, and the interaction with audience members was often funny and felt improvised but I couldn’t help feeling that much of it was a set up with audience members ‘planted’ for the purpose. Having said that, there are worse ways to spend a December afternoon.
Stalls row D seats 3 and 4. An excellent view of the whole stage and excellent legroom. Very happy with these! That’s another theatre crossed of the list, I thought the Vaudeville was lovely.
We saw this last week, (February 2020), I think I had very high expectations following the 'Play That Goes Wrong' and the 'Bank Robbery'....
Sadly, although the show is very clever, I found it a little lacking in laughs (for me) and the only saving aspect was The Mind Mangler! I thought he was hilarious, very good at ad lib and he really carried the show for me.
We were seated in the upper circle, rather tight on leg room, but bearable for just £30 a ticket. We had very good views of the whole stage.
The show is cleverly presented and the magic that does to go right is great, mainly at the end! The company have produced some brilliant shows, very original and, despite my personal opinion, I think this show is still worth seeing. Best not to have any prejudgement because of the other productions. It stands alone and, for me, was just a little wobbly.
The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.
Tuesday to Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday at 2pm and 7pm
NO MONDAY PERFORMANCES.
Runs 2 hours 10 minutes approximately.
Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.
This theatre does not have specific seats held "off sale" like other theatres have done, to enable "social distancing." Their system automatically takes adjacent seats off-sale as the booking is confirmed. There will be at least a metre front to back and there will be an empty seat between each booking bubble. As a result, locations may vary.