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‘Audience wasn’t just laughing, some were in hysterics’ Mind Mangler at Cambridge

REVIEW: Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until May 25.

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Mischief Theatre, creators of the Play That Goes Wrong, with its precision timing and its send-up of the dramatic form doesn’t have audiences so much as a fan club egging them on. The audience wasn’t just laughing for the first night at Cambridge Arts Theatre, some were in hysterics.

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, Mind Mangler, with its subtitle “Member of the Tragic Circle” is, if you like, the magic show that goes wrong. Most of it is predictable nonsense but every so often they pull off a trick that works.

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

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Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

It’s mostly a one-man show for Henry Lewis, delivered with great aplomb and a voice reminiscent of Brian Blessed.

Jonathan Sayer appears on stage from time to time when a volunteer is required.

He comes on at first wearing a t-shirt saying, “Audience member”, which gets a laugh in itself.

Later, the t-shirt says: “Different audience member”. The third actor is Tom Wainwright, who operates cameras and microphones and devices which read the mind.

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

There is a ton of audience participation. Before the show starts, the audience is invited to write down a secret and put it in a box.

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Lewis will guess these secrets later. Some aren’t hard. A man stands up with a bandaged thumb and Lewis guesses that the secret is an injury to the man’s hand.

Lewis guesses other audience-members’ names and asks for other people to disclose their jobs.

He fishes cards out of his jacket afterwards that shows he knew in advance whether they worked indoors or outdoors.

It’s all very silly. But that’s all part of the fun. When the tricks don’t come off, or when they do and they are wholly predictable, that gets even more laughs.

We haven’t come to see a magic show, we’ve come to be entertained and Mischief Theatre are past masters at that.

Mischief Theatre began in 2008 formed by former students of Lamda, one of the top five drama schools.

They have played at the Edinburgh Fringe, the West End, on Broadway and on BBC Television. In 2015 they were part of the Royal Variety Show.

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

In 2016, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, which had immaculate timing for people falling through floors and doors, was on BBC 1 on New Year’s Eve narrated by David Suchet.

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith

This show, directed by Hannah Sharkey, is an engaging piece of nonsense. People left with delighted smiles on their faces.

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25.

 

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