Review: Mind Mangler – Member of the Tragic Circle, Apollo Theatre

I finally make my Mischief debut with the entertaining Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle, now playing at the Apollo Theatre

“Do not let me influence you”

Ever one to be ahead of the curve, this is actually my first Mischief show, the extraordinary success of the …Goes Wrong franchise whilst hugely impressive never really having appealed to me. Nor have I seen many magic shows either but having been tickled by Unbelievable last year, I decided to take up the opportunity to see Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle, now resident at the Apollo Theatre.

A spin-off of a character from Magic Goes Wrong, Mind Mangler manages a canny balancing act between comedy and magic, mixing in a huge amount of audience participation (avoid the stalls if you’re shy and retiring) and technological wizardry with improvised riffing on the responses of the lucky few thrust into the spotlight. Plus there’s all the magic that goes wrong, as well as the magic that goes right.

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, the show is at its best on the edge of the absurd, with rapid-fire gags rolling off the stage. The animal impressions, Quickfire Jesus, the forced mike responses, the spoon bending and so much more besides. The audience participation has inspired moments too (once you’ve suspended a touch of the disbelief), leading to any number of hilarious callbacks.

There’s also a narrative thread through the show too. Lewis’ Mind Mangler, aka Keith, is severely down on his luck and as Sayer’s Stooge keeps popping up as an enthusiastic audience member, an effective melodrama plays out between them. Ironically, the element that was least successful for me was the magic bits going ‘right’, though that’s as much about my own natural scepticism tbqh.

Hannah Sharkey’s direction keeps things going at a pacey lick, Sara Perks’ day-glo-bright set nails the fun tone just so, with Gillian Tan’s video and David Howe’s lighting playing their own invaluable parts.

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