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Magic Goes Wrong at Birmingham Hippodrome

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Penn and Teller helped create magical farce
After years of success with the farce The Play That Goes Wrong, this spin-off from award-winning Mischief is waving its comedy wand towards magic shows.

Magic Goes Wrong, Birmingham Hippodrome
Sam Hill is excellent with his comic timing as Sophisticato


It's not just its expertise in comic timing that the company brings to Magic Goes Wrong at Birmingham Hippodrome as the team has had plenty of help from the inside - from world-famous magicians Penn and Teller.

Running for a week in Birmingham until Sunday May 29, the show gets underway introducing a hapless gang of magicians who are supposed to be staging an evening of grand illusion to raise cash for charity.

Similar to The Play That Goes Wrong, the fun starts before curtain up with characters roaming around the stage doing preparations, including trying to catch a loose rabbit and fixing a faulty sign that will light up intermittently to reveal various other words throughout the show.

Magic Goes Wrong, Birmingham Hippodrome
The Blade is very similar to David Blaine in character


Once it all gets started, it's not long before the magic turns to mayhem, accidents spiral out of control and the fundraising target descends into minus figures.

It's a surreal two and a half hours but there's the essence of a story threading it all together. At its core is compere and useless new magician Sophisticato, played effortlessly by an excellent Sam Hill. He's recovering from the death of his father, a famous magician, by trying to take up the family profession. Helping out is his dad's ex-assistant, Eugenia, which opens up more family secrets.

Sophisticato has brought together some other acts including the highlight of the show - Mind Mangler. Played by extremely likeable Rory Fairbairn, Mind Mangler is a total mickey take of Derren Brown. His misguided attempts to show his special abilities involves plenty of interaction with the audience and is laugh out loud funny. Surprisingly, Derren Brown even is part of this show for a brief moment so he obviously has a good sense of humour (or hasn't seen the show).

Then there is The Blade, who is a caricature of David Blaine but has more injuries than successes in his stunts. Finally, there's a pair of German sisters, Spitzmaus and Bar. They are the oddest additions as their comedy seems based around them being German. A little outdated and 1970s, perhaps.

Magic Goes Wrong, Birmingham Hippodrome
A glamorous set with words above the stage that change through the show


What's really clever about this play is that amongst all the craziness, mistakes and acute comic timing are the precise dare-devil stunts and actual magic tricks that have been created by Penn and Teller.

The comedy takes precedence but there are several magic tricks that will leave you scratching your head. Mischievous Penn & Teller don't appear on stage but their handiwork is obvious in this slick production.

Mischief have again come up with a winning formula. This has much more audience participation and manipulation than their previous shows and it works so well.

Magic Goes Wrong is a rip-roaring, hilarious ride that will have you on the edge of your seat. They really have pulled the rabbit out of the hat for this new show.

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Why? See hilarious and magical comedy from Mischief theatre
When: Until May 29, 2022
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Birmingham, B4
Cost: From 20
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