Direct from West End’s Vaudeville theatre, award-winning theatre group, Mischief, the creators of The Play That Goes Wrong and Groan Ups, are up to their old tricks as they return to the Everyman Theatre with new comedy – Magic Goes Wrong.

We had the pleasure of experiencing the opening performance first hand and have shared our thoughts below...

Various images of the Magic Goes Wrong cast in action

The story follows the hapless Sophisticato (Sam Hill), as he tries and perpetually fails to hold together a charity magic gala supporting magicians killed in the act, in memory of his late father. For the show, Sophisticato has cobbled together an eclectic mix of larger than life entertainers, amusing caricatures of famous magicians we all know and love like Derren Brown and Criss Angel, all performing equally awful acts. 

There’s edgy magician The Blade, enacting increasingly painful feats of daring. Sister act Bar and Spitzmaus, the German double act who are constantly trying to one-up or embarrass the other, and the Mind Mangler, a hack mentalist with a chip on his shoulder and an ongoing feud with the mischievous teleprompt operator.  

If you’re a fan of Mischiefs other work, namely The Play that Goes Wrong, then you’ll feel right at home with Magic. It’s the typical mix of slapstick comedy and calamity that the group has made their bread and butter. Only with a bit more trickery and a pinch more danger. Watch out for that saw!

However, although the magic is invariably supposed to go wrong, there is real top-notch illusion weaved into the show as well. No doubt influenced by the interjections of the legendary magical duo Penn and Teller, who co-wrote the show with the Mischief troupe, the tricks on display have a surprising authenticity to them. From clever card tricks to levitation and a particularly visceral sawing in half spectacle, the illusions are performed deftly by the more than capable cast.

Of course, none of the magic would be possible without the right tools, and the prop design, costumes and stage dressing here are consistently fantastic.The costumes are functional, but with a touch of flair, facilitating the magical trickery and quick changes the cast require as they move rapidly through their set pieces, whilst still highlighting the eclectic personalities of the larger than life performers.

Meanwhile, the props and sets are quirky and diverse enough to keep things interesting while elevating not only the comedy but the magic as well. You do feel like you are watching a magic show of yesterday as it falls apart at the seams.

All in all, Magic Goes Wrong is a bright, colourful and enjoyable romp through the world of these loveable, bumbling magical performers. There are plenty of laughs to be had and genuine moments of delight as the pieces of a well-crafted illusion falls neatly together. It’s a fun night out the whole family can enjoy.  

Magic Goes Wrong is taking place at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham until this Saturday, 19th February, with two performances Thursday and Saturday. Tickets are available via the Everyman Theatre box office.

Review by Stuart Fieldhouse

For more events and live shows in Cheltenham check out our helpful guides – Live Performances in Cheltenham aswell as our Festivals and Major Events Guide.


Everyman Theatre
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Everyman Theatre

The Everyman is Gloucestershire's theatre - and has been serving the county (and beyond) since 1891.

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