Magic Goes Wrong, Empire Theatre, Liverpool- Review

Magic Goes Wrong
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Show: Magic Goes Wrong
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Dates: 7th September – 11th September 2021
Times: 14.30 & 19.30
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Age Rating: 11+
Performers: Chloe Tannenbaum, Daniel Anthony, Jocelyn Prah, Kiefer Moriarty, Sam Hill, Valerie Cutko, David Nellist, CJ Field, Ishbel Cumming, Jay Olpin & Rory Fairbairn
Production Company: Mischief

Magic Goes Wrong is a chaotic combination of impressive illusions and daft comedy. Created with Penn and Teller, Michief provide a night of fun and laughter for all who love slap-stick and mayhem!


This higgledy-piggledy play is about a group of ‘magicians’ who are throwing a charity fundraiser for victims of magic-related disasters. This bunch of charmingly silly performers put on a show of traditional tricks and mind magic. Of course it all ended in either humiliation, injury or worse. Magic Goes Wrong is a show of two halves, and the storyline of the play mirrors the real-life theatre, only their interval is a lot more dramatic than ours! The fundraiser is terribly ‘televised’ with horrible technological disruptions, even the ‘audience volunteers’ manage to cause havoc! Merciless mousetraps, dead doves and cardboard boxes from hell all feaure in the madness that is Magic Goes Wrong!


To be perfectly honest, this comedy genre is not at all my cup of tea. However, the audience were cracking at their seams, reacting to the bedlam out of pure joy! As my first indoor theatre experience since the pandemic hit, it was wonderful to see this excited response to a clever but completely silly production. I can appreciate the immense skill, timing and talent of the company and am in awe of the way they had the audience wrapped around their little, at times bloody, fingers.

One aspect I enjoyed was the explanation and- albeit disasterous- demonstration of the classic illusion of sawing a woman in half. Although the end result was predictable, it did provide a glimpse into the workings of the trick which was interesting. My favourite aspect of the play was the audience interaction during the ‘Mind Mangler’ appearances. A running joke about the name John continued with the assistance of several quick witted Scousers sat in the stalls. Their ability to improvise and run with the flow of the audience was fantastic and rather impressive.

In the politest way, this show felt like the lovechild of Mr Bean and a Panto Dame. The characters were quirky and almost fairtale-like. One of the performers who played the fake audience member Steve (sometimes Brian) had wonderful comedic timing and was isntantly lovable. But overall it felt like the kind of show a pre-teen boy would find hilarious, only it was a mixed-age audience and most of them were having the absolute time of their lives. This just shows this flavour is an acquired taste. I did laugh, but mostly during the part that was supposed to be serious. The daftness of it all tickled me. It was not dissimilar to the kind of act Simon would endure for about a minute on Britains Got Talent before pushing that big red button. But, of course, David Walliams would adore it.

To give credit where credit is actually due, the fact that every trick went disasterously wrong only showcased Mischief’s brilliance. To accidentally-on-purpose mess it all up and make the ghastly situations look (arguably) real is a clever, bewildering wonder. Throughout the mayhem several magic tricks were pulled off and these cases were truly bemusing!


This frenziful, slightly frustrating but fun production is a must-see for fans of slapstick silliness and all-round ridiculousness.


Target Audience: 11+ slapstick comedy fans

Content: Partial nudity, fake blood and gore

Recommendation: Yes… if this is your sense of humour

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