sun 19/09/2021

Wonderville, Palace Theatre review - magic and illusion family show | reviews, news & interviews

Wonderville, Palace Theatre review - magic and illusion family show

Wonderville, Palace Theatre review - magic and illusion family show

Variety of variable quality

Chris Cox, who MCs the show, is a great mindreaderPamela Raith Photography

Variety is a form of entertainment most usually seen on Saturday night television these days, but Wonderville is an attempt to bring it back into the West End.

It's mostly a magic and illusion show, with a hefty slice of comedy, a bit of song and dance, and a speciality act thrown in for good measure.

Much of it works, although there are some acts that it's best to gloss over (I was reminded, and not in a good way, of Britain's Got Talent a few times on the night I saw the show). But when it works, it's really good. And considering that many of magic and illusion's tricks go back centuries, it was good to see some of the performers here breathing fresh life into them – with the age-old audience response of “How do they do that?”

Acting as MC, as well as being the linchpin of the show, is mindreader Chris Cox. His high-energy, geeky style is reminiscent of the children's TV presenter he sometimes is, but his comedy occasionally veers towards the adult, although is too subtle or throwaway for young kids to notice.

His mindreading skills are astonishing, hitting the right notes not just with those members of the audience that had said they might be up for a bit of participation, but with those sitting near them too, being bang-on with personal details that he couldn't possibly guess.

Edward Hilsum is an accomplished sleight-of-hand artist who was voted stage magician of the year in 2018 by the Magic Circle. He conjures doves (who knew that was still a thing?) from handkerchiefs and playing cards from thin air and, in one of his spots, invited a child on stage to be his assistant, which doubles the jeopardy of things going wrong, one assumes, but which worked very well.

Kat Hudson is an engaging magic act with a great line in comedy patter. She did a modern version of an old trick – of seemingly smashing an audience member's mobile phone before conjuring it up again, in one piece – before performing a very up-to-date trick involving the audience using their phones' calculators.

Young and Strange, an illusionist double act who appear a few times during the evening, aren't the best comics but their act has great charm. In one trick, Richard Young climbs out of cardboard box into which Sam Strange has driven wooden stakes, drinks some water and then it spouts out from his suit. It's an old gag, but well executed.

Director Annabel Mutale Reed closes the show, not with Young and Strange's Las Vegas knowing and funny pastiche, which builds to a terrific and noisy climax complete with bombastic music, but with a callback by Hilsum to an earlier part of the show, which deflates all that built-up energy. But other than that, Wonderville is enjoyable family entertainment with a lot of heart.

Kat Hudson is an engaging magic act with a great line in comedy patter

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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