REVIEW: Magic Goes Wrong, Birmingham Hippodrome

Mischief Theatre is at it again. With two shows currently on the road, the award-winning comedic production company is back in Birmingham for the second time this month, this time causing mayhem at Birmingham Hippodrome.

AD: Press night / gifted tickets

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Those familiar with the work of Mischief will know what they’re setting themselves up for when you go to see one of the Oliver Award-winning performances – everything that should go right goes wrong in a brilliantly chaotic and well-organised way.

Just a week after I’d seen Mischief’s smash-hit debut The Play That Goes Wrong over at The Alexandra, I was back for my next instalment in the company’s ever-growing catalogue for the UK tour of Magic Goes Wrong.

The show’s concept itself is easy enough to follow; the Disasters in Magic Charity Fundraiser is hoping to make some serious money, the only problem is all of the acts have a reputation for things not going quite to plan. As each act takes to the stage all hell breaks loose.

True to form in keeping with the rest of the ‘Goes Wrong’ series, members of the cast are out and about before the show’s officially started by wreaking havoc amongst audience members, somewhat a staple to Mischief’s approach to a new breed of theatre. It’s something that I’ve grown accustomed to since my first encounter with Mischief, and it’s even funnier if you get involved.

Much like its predecessors, Magic Goes Wrong has enjoyed has soaked up a wealth of success across both the UK and US, raking in audience members to come and experience a magic show like never before – and it is a magic real show, honestly!

A dream collaboration, Magic Goes Wrong sees Mischief join forces with the legendary Penn & Teller. A match made in theatrical comedy heaven, some might say. The show blends head-scratching magic tricks together with the Wrong Boys brilliant comedic timing and impressive improvisation from a stellar cast.

Every part of me wanted to love it, but something didn’t quite hit the mark this time around. Don’t get me wrong, a vast majority of the audience loved it and were seen wiping tears of laughter away from their eyes, but I couldn’t help but feel like it was missing something.

Magic Goes Wrong. Credit Pamela Raith Photography

There are plenty of blunders – things falling down, handles falling off, a bear on the loose, a cameo appearance from Derren Brown, but Magic is a little more injury-based than what I’ve come to expect from Mischief shows, which makes me think it might not be as appropriate for young audience members.

On previous visits to Mischief shows the set has been fairly simple – The Play That Goes Wrong being a solid example, yet Magic has come out all guns blazing, and in some ways I think it almost gives you too much to focus on and almost distracts from the brilliantly written script and skilful improve.

Magic is still jam-packed with organised chaos, and I can appreciate the amount of sheer work and talent that it takes to write and perform something where everything needs to go wrong in order to go right.

Parts of the show were pure genius too. The use of select lettered lights in the set turning off to spell unfortunate and hilarious phrases was a stroke of pure genius, and some of the magic tricks were nothing short of what you’d expect to see in a world-class magic show, but lining Magic up against the rest of Mischief’s portfolio, for me, it sits in the midfield.

I have no doubt that anyone who buys a ticket to the most frantic magic show in town will find something to laugh about, but I think I’ll stick to The Cornley Drama Society and its manic plays, which will always hold the top spot as Mischief’s best work.

Magic Goes Wrong runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Sunday, May 29. Click here to book tickets.

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