Thursday, June 30, 2022
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Everything is Magic in Wonderville

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Everyone loves magic and to prove it every seat in the Palace Theatre was full for Wonderville, the show that will bring magic back to the West End this summer, writes Michael Holland.

Wonderville began with the whole troupe skipping, jumping, dancing, roller-skating on to the stage – or magically just appearing – to give us an introduction to the artistes. It was an explosion of colour that had the audience – that ranged from 6 to 76 – fidgeting excitedly in their seats, which is what most of us were doing throughout the two hour show.

There is something for everyone in Wonderville and I personally thought the show peaked too early when Josephine Lee and her ‘half sister ‘walked across the stage. Because the sister was in half. Literally. She was just a pair of legs walking. But before we had a chance to work out what was actually going on the siblings had exited stage right!

I didn’t have time to let my amazement settle because another act was already on to distract us from what we had seen in the last. And that is how it went all night, a non-stop extravaganza of magic and music and comedy and audience participation and wonderment. 

Mentalist Chris Cox is the thread that pulls everything together while cracking jokes and reading minds between the never-ending tricks and illusions performed by the others.

Edward Hilsum, a softly spoken man who has won numerous awards for his magic, produced doves and fire from nowhere, but he won our hearts when he called a six-year-old boy up to work his magic on him.

Kat Hudson did group magic with the whole audience using their phones, while Emily England performed card tricks while balancing upside down on a flimsy chair and doing the splits!

My favourites, though, were Young and Strange, who once impressed the magnificent Penn & Teller into saying that if they kept their tricks a secret they could be ‘one of the greatest magic acts the world has ever seen’. I was very impressed. They cut a girl in half, which we’ve all seen before, but they put the two halves on either side of the stage. Strange then concertinaed Young into a box that wasn’t big enough for a cat. They then disappeared Chris Cox and their beautiful assistant from a glass case that we could all see in to! That’s what I call magic.

Yes, some of us can work out how some of the tricks are done, but it is the illusions that we can’t work out that make magic such a fantastic thing for all ages to watch. And that is why Wonderville is a great night’s entertainment.

Palace Theatre, 113 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 5AY until 30th August. Times: Wednesday – Monday at 7.45pm; Monday and Thursday matinee at 3pm; Saturday and Sunday matinee at 3.45pm. Admission: £19.50 – £59.50 plus booking fees. Booking: www.nimaxtheatres.com 

Photos: Pamela Raith

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