Magic Goes Wrong Review

Cambridge Arts Theatre, Cambridge – until 21 August 2021.

Reviewed by Steph Lott


When I took my seat last night, it felt like life was starting to go back to normal. The theatre was nearly full, with a family audience and a panto atmosphere. There was cheesy musak playing, a glittering stage curtain and the scene was set for a wonderful evening of belly laughs and silly slapstick fun.

Magic Goes Wrong is a highly entertaining comedy play, created through the combined talents of Mischief and Penn and Teller. It’s part of Mischief’s “Goes Wrong” series of plays, which include “The Play That Goes Wrong” and “Peter Pan Goes Wrong”. The show contains a series of simple, well-known magic tricks that go disastrously wrong, all centred around a very loose plot which is that a gang of accident-prone magicians, whose leader has father issues, have set up a charity fundraiser show. You get to see a woman fired from a cannon, a very tall lady sawn in half, as well as card tricks and mind-reading. The humour is gloriously silly and slapstick. Trousers fall down. There are bare bottoms! German duo Bar & Spitzmaus sport comedy foreign accents. The Mind Mangler gets fed rude lines via the teleprompter.

However, Magic Goes Wrong is so carefully constructed that the constant flow of funny acts, magic tricks, their execution and ensuing surprises, leaves you laughing out loud and it never drags. Whilst the tricks fail spectacularly most of the time, there are still some fantastic feats of magic thrown in for good measure. The influence of Penn & Teller is definitely woven through the play and even the tricks that go wrong are packed with sleight of hand, misdirection and real magic.

The production has a brilliant cast: Daniel Anthony (Mickey), Valerie Cutko (Eugenia), Sam Hill (Sophisticato), Kiefer Moriarty (The Blade), David Nellist (Mind Mangler), Jocelyn Prah (Spitzmaus) and Chloe Tannenbaum (Bar). The German twins Spitzmaus and Bar were my personal favourites – something oddly sinister about them! I also enjoyed the fact that the technicians and assorted stage people are also involved in the action, as with other Mischief productions that I have seen. Director Adam Meggido and movement director Ali James have created between them a complicated entertaining show, with a nostalgic feel to it. I loved Will Bowen’s glittery set – everything sparkled.

Also to note that there is also a cameo appearance on film from Derren Brown who donated his fee for this production to Great Ormond Street.

With an extended run for the summer holidays, this slapstick romp is family entertainment at its best. There is plenty of magic that goes right