21 Belvoir Rd
Cheshire GB WA4 6PE
Phone: +44 7725 234022 Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube

REVIEW - Mind Mangler is a magical, magnetic and madcap night out!


On Wednesday, we went to the Palace Theatre in Manchester to see Mind Mangler. Read what our reviewer Karen Ryder had to say about this brilliantly bonkers show...

I love Mischief Theatre and I love Magic, especially the mentalism Derren Brown style, so from the moment Mind Mangler: Member Of The Tragic Circle was conceived, I have been dying to see it!  And with Peter Pan Goes Wrong barely out of town, there are many of us eagerly awaiting to be treated by this award-winning company all over again.  A spin off from Magic Goes Wrong, the Mind Mangler truly believes in his own brand of genius and was always going to be too big to be sharing a show with others!  So off on the road he goes with his stooge by his side and his tricks up his sleeve, ready to beguile audiences across the country with his mystique.  But as he is bursting to surprise the audience with his mysteries, he gets a few surprises of his own as we uncover his personal secrets, ones that were never meant to be a part of the show.  As the Mind Manglers private life is revealed one bit at a time, there is no illusion big enough to cover it up.  And so on with the show he goes in typical Mischief style, with tricks going wrong, his stooge firstly getting things wrong by accident, then perhaps on purpose, he ends up revealing he too has a few tricks of his own up his sleeve.  The daft, warm and pure silly humour we know and love from Mischief Theatre is alive and well, but this show finds new ways to explore things that go wrong, cleverly separating itself just enough from its ‘Goes Wrong’ relatives.  We see the Mind Mangler battle with broken sound effects (mind, mind mind) and pyrotechnics being mixed up, before we belly laugh as his mind reading fails, gigglw as his (never met before!!!???!!!!) audience members mess up the Ouija board and howl as hypnosis alludes him.  But his showbiz desire and egocentric state do not allude him, ensuring hilarity as he tries to pass it all off as the intended outcome with his fabulously flamboyant gift of the gab!  And just as you think he will explode with frustration at his stooge, or the very vocal audience, and give in to the inevitable disasters, to the surprise of everyone, his tricks start working, and we are not only treated to the unbelievable brand of Mischief Theatre, but also genuinely bewildering and impressive magic and illusion! 

For anyone who loves magic and illusion, you will recognise many set pieces, such as the suspended box, the glass bowl of audience secrets, or even a gorilla running across the stage (makes more sense if you’ve ever seen a Derren Brown or other mentalist show before).  Well, I say you will recognise them, but of course, this is a Mischief version of the trick so you learn quickly to always expect the unexpected and don’t assume you know how things will play out.  The joy of this show is that you genuinely are kept in the dark and on the edge of your seat as to whether each magic piece will be a gag that goes wrong, form part of the comedy genius of the characters and allow a joke or set piece to land with hilarity, or whether you will be amazed by true magic!

There is a huge element of audience participation in this show, and no one is exempt from their brand of quick wit, loving insults, and frayed tempers!  This becomes an integral and quite frankly highly skilled part of the show, as we witness improvisation and sharp responses at their finest.  This cast have no idea who they are going to chat with, what will be fed back to them, or what challenge they might meet, yet they turn it into the finest and most unique brand of five star comedy time and time again!  This element also means that no two shows can be identical and therefore offers a perfect excuse (as if you needed one) to watch this show multiple times.  In tonights show, we met a hospital directors assistant, someone who once had a meeting with a man named John, and someone who had a dark secret about revenge on his ex that involved fish!   The spontaneity is so impressive, and then, as if that’s not enough, they somehow manage to hark back at things that have been said during the audience interactions and use them as pay offs for jokes later on!  It truly makes you all feel part of a one off experience, which is exactly what you are, and the skill and likeability it takes to achieve this is off the scale talent. 

This talent comes in the form of Mischief Theatre original members, and writers of the show (along with Henry Shields) in Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer.  Henry Lewis plays the newly divorced Mind Mangler, whose career is finally taking off thanks to his new manager Bob Kojax.  Bob has booked him on a whirlwind tour across the UK, finally ending with the big one, a stint in Vegas!  Lewis plays this character only as Lewis can, with a renowned personality, and exceptional wit blended with truly tender and touching moments.  He handles the few audience members who try to make themselves stand out with a respectful and good natured humour, clearly having heard it all before.   He never leaves the stage (or does he?!) and carries the show having learnt a phenomenal amount of script, numerous tricks, skills, and improvisations.  He is utterly convincing as a magician who is perhaps on the verge of having a break down, for he blends genuine magic and mentalism with Mischiefs own brand of theatre.  Jonathan Sayer is superb at playing Steve the stooge, (as well as many different audience members), fabulously showing us his ability to play the daft, innocent and naïve fall guy.  But he also brings moments of magic and illusion, alongside his true magical gift of just what a good friend he genuinely is to the Mind Mangler, in some lovely moments and exchanges.  And he gets everywhere!  He works so hard at running quite literally around the theatre, and makes us laugh with a look alone, and his great t-shirt costume changes and disguises.  Sayer had a beautiful moment at the end of the show where he shared his story of how he used to be an usher at The Palace Theatre Manchester and gave a shout out to all the hard working and dedicated ushers out there.  It clearly meant a lot to him to be back home, and we were thrilled to have him!

Directed by Hannah Sharkey, the Mischief Theatre brand of “Serious About Silliness” is absolutely at the heart of this show and with lost props, mangled sound cues, dodgy lighting rigs, and messed up projections, we get the clear branding of Mischief Theatre.  However, Mind Mangler is a show in its own right and so does not stick solely to their tried and tested amazing antics, proudly and impressively including bonafide magic!  Magic consultant Ben Hart has brought authenticity to the show, and many were surprised and impressed by the genuine illusions and mind reading that took place.  No spoilers here but you may just have your mind (mind mind) blown!  Mix that together with the outrageously silly, from the night time terror predictions, to tasting names, smelling jobs, and the random outbursts of (very impressive) Jesus magic, the results are an audience that are left in a heightened state of euphoria and bewilderment.  Expect to be involved from the moment you arrive, as you are invited to write your name and your secrets on a piece of paper for the Mind Mangler to perhaps guess later.  It’s up to you to decide whether you think he can do it or if this is just a Mischief gag!  Mind Mangler is a magical, magnetic and madcap night out that will leave you questioning how they did it but knowing that you’re just really thrilled that they did!



Mind Mangler is on at the Palace Theatre until Saturday 18th May 2024.

Watch our "In Conversation with Jonathan Sayer" video discussing the show


disneys-aladdin disneys-aladdin
Follow Us
Join Our Free Mailing List