Who doesn't love a bit of magic? Always a crowd pleaser when it comes to the West End, this latest offering feels even more timely following events from the last 18 months. Wonderville has landed in time to combine performance magic with the magic of theatre.
Starting with a single ghost light on stage with a video explaining the tradition of keeping it lit while theatres are dark, the show gets off to a strong start that gives you an inkling you're about to watch a show with a lot of heart. The ghost light is cleverly referenced throughout the show too, allowing the grateful audience to never let their minds forget how lucky we all are to be able to be back in full capacity theatres.
The evening is compered by mind-reader Chris Cox. Full of charisma and utterly captivating, Chris has a way of connecting with the audience and making them feel like he is speaking solely to them. Whether he is introducing other acts or popping up during their acts (including a hilarious turn as a tiger), you know you are never far from him appearing to make you smile. His own act provides a highlight of the show, impressing with his brilliant mind-reading skills and ensuring things never get too serious. His interactions with various audience members and quick on his feet responses when things go wrong or audience members don't quite do what he intended cement what an exceptional talent he is - the midshow standing ovation he received was a testament to this.
Classic magic tricks are on display throughout the night with Josephine Lee and Young & Strange both delivering takes on escaping from a locked box, disappearing and reappearing again and sawing a person in half. While some spoilsports may have seen it done before and be happy to tell you how it is done, for many in the audience, the escapism was all that mattered - and the expert way these classic tricks were performed were enough to satisfy us. Young & Strange in particular were standouts throughout the evening with brilliant humour and banter as well as bringing a touch of Vegas to the West End.
Edward Hilsum provided some of the most memorable moments of the night. Apart from constantly turning objects into doves, he delivered the mosr heartwarming and surprisingly emotional moment of Wonderville as he talked about when he first discovered magic as a child and then repeated this moment on stage with a young volunteer, passing the torch on to the next generation. It didn't matter how old you were - seeing the wonder in the eyes of the child on stage resonated with all of us and melted even the coldest of hearts.
Magic is not the only subject of Wonderville - variety is also on the menu. Ticking that box was Symoné who ensured her combination of roller skating and hula hooping was never boring. For the run at the Palace Theatre, various guests are appearing for several shows at a time. For the show I went to, I had Britain's Got Talent and Vegas star Emily England who dazzled (Don't we all) with her never-ending appearing cards.
This show has been designed for kids and big kids alike. Pure unadulterated family fun, the kids will be amazed while the adults will chuckle at gags that go over the kids heads (Usually from the mind of Chris Cox). Cleverly done and a whole lot of fun, Wonderville ticks all the boxes and offers audiences all the wonder of both magic and a night at the theatre.
Wonderville plays at the Palace Theatre until August 30th. Tickets from https://www.nimaxtheatres.com/shows/wonderville-magic-illusion/
Photos by Pamela Raith.