Mind Mangler - Member of the Tragic Circle

You can be sure that if you put Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer on a stage together you are going to get comic madness, and leave the theatre aching from laughter. They are part of Mischief Theatre, the creative geniuses behind The Play That Goes Wrong and other madcap gems such as A Comedy about a Bank Robbery and Peter Pan Goes Wrong. Over the last decade, they have continually proven their talent for both slapstick comedy and taking their audiences on a journey into the surreal. As their website says, they are serious about silliness! But, would a two-man show be too much for even these two guys to hold our attention? In a word: No! It’s not illusion, it’s not sleight of hand; they are truly on top of their game.

From the moment you enter the theatre, it’s clear this is an interactive show.  You are asked to write down your name and a secret, which could be used in the show later. We do so, hoping our names don’t get pulled out of the hat! How honest do we dare to be?

As the show begins the Mind Mangler (Henry Lewis) takes us – no, drags us – into his tragic circle, insisting he has numerous magical powers, each one of his senses, heighten above those of us mere audience members. However, everything is conspiring against him – and of course, it’s not his talent that’s to blame! Despite the breakdown of his marriage, a stooge that can’t get his cues right and a sabotaging press officer (related to his ex-wife), he is determined to put on his show.

The show is a mixture of obvious set up tricks, pantomimic comedy, and some genuine moments of – ‘how did they manage that?’ Personally, we loved the ‘Quick-Fire Jesus’ magic, which was just silly but felt very inclusive. But it’s more than just a slap stick magic-show-gone-wrong. There is a back story, there is pathos, there is clever improvisation, seamlessly weaving the audience’s contributions into the plot and script as if they were planned. And the audience interaction really is a genius – and actually brave – decision. So much could go wrong – which can only add to the fun.

Our fear for this show was if you don’t really like magic, would the set ups be so obvious as to become boring? We need not have worried. Sure, the set ups are there – but it’s amazing how many you miss until the final curtain – and then remarkably all is revealed, leaving us wanting to return to see how they would interact with another audience of mere mortals! And that’s magic - as the multi-millionaire husband of Debbie Magee might once have said!

Highly recommended!

This show was reviewed on the 24th March 2024 at the Apollo Theatre, London where it runs until the 28th April 2024.  Tickets available here: Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle - Apollo Theatre (theapollotheatre.co.uk)

Review written by Paul Wood & Ian Worsfold

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Photo credit: Pamela Raith

You can watch our interview with Henry Lewis & Jonathan Sayer here: https://youtu.be/oLAAizT6x_s?si=Hw0ZuPl1z-XHitGR

Check out other reviews from Curtain Call Reviews and get in touch to have our reviewers head to your show.

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