Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle ★★★★ Apollo Theatre | Mar 14 - Apr 28, 2024

The motto of Mischief Theatre is whatever can go wrong will go wrong. If you are familiar with the troupe's brand you already know what's coming and the formula is played out again with satisfying predictability. In this latest variation on the theme, we have an irascible mentalist who bumbles through his show with the help of an awkward stooge playing various "volunteers" from the audience. It recalls the old Laurel and Hardy films with a boisterous, short-tempered Oliver Hardy berating a dim, but endearing Stan Laurel. And it still works, so that when the odd trick does succeed the audience is delighted and completely onside with our poor discombobulated Mind Mangler. The rest of the time they delight in his defeats and frustration. Henry Lewis does a fine job as the mortified mentalist, and Jonathan Sayer is engagingly goofy as his well-meaning sidekick. Lewis produces some quick-witted ad libs, and the audience completely gets into the spirit of the banter with the beleaguered performer. There is a slight storyline about the personal and professional life of the Mind Mangler and his friendship with his stooge, but the plot is panto-thin and not what the audience is worrying about. This really is pantomime humour without the Christmas trappings and the audience delights in it. You always know what is on offer with Mischief Theatre, and Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle delivers exactly what is promised.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Pamela Raith

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