Tonight’s fun is brought to you by the letter ‘M’.
Magic, Mystery, Madcap, Mayhem, Must-See.
The return to live theatre was always going to be a special one and for the audience at Newcastle Theatre Royal who were watching the opening night of Magic Goes Wrong they were treated to a slice of escapism that has been sorely missed over the past months.
Building on their brilliant Cornley Polytechnic previous productions (The Play that Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Story about a Bank Robbery), the Mischief Theatre company have melded real magic with their brand of zany mistakes and cringe-inducing mishaps.
Set as a fundraiser event for the Disaster in Magic Charity, we are treated to illusions, mind reading, escape stunts, card tricks and much more. Of course, these are not destined to run smoothly, there are accidents aplenty, no shortage of physical injury, prop failures and some rather unfortunate events with wildlife. All in all, the charity night does not quite provide the much needed boost in funds, but it does give us, the real audience, plenty to enjoy.
The cast includes Daniel Anthony (Mickey), Valerie Cutko (Eugenia), Sam Hill (Sophisticato), Kiefer Moriarty (The Blade), Jocelyn Prah (Spitzmaus), Chloe Tannenbaum (Bar), with understudies Ishbel Cummings, Rory Fairbairn, CJ Field and Jay Olpin.
Stand out performance was the brilliant David Nellist as the Mind Mangler; a native to the North East (Alf Ramsey Knew My GrandFather, Pitmen Painters, The Far Corner) David’s performance of the oft thwarted mentalist is a counterpoint to the madcap physical comedy of the other acts.
MGW was possibly a marriage made in heaven; the ‘Magic’ has been designed and written by Penn and Teller – American magicians whom I first saw almost 30 years ago and whose performances have taken magic and twisted it into the macabre, drawing you into a safe expectation of traditional magic and then throwing you against the wall. The ‘Goes Wrong’ part is the latest child sired by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields – names that now guarantee mayhem and test the bounds of how much they can inflict on a cast before they cause them real harm. The blend of the two (there is real magic being performed) ensures that you are not really sure what to expect next, a true variety show.
Much credit must go to the staff and management of the Theatre Royal, Newcastle who have worked very hard to bring a sense of safety and confidence to the theatre going experience. It is not easy to suit everyone’s sensibilities but they have provided clear guidance, sensible rules and effective spacing so as to ensure you feel part of a large collective without cause for worry.
Magic Goes Wrong is at The Theatre Royal, Newcastle until Saturday 28th August.