We all know that a night at the theatre can be a magical experience, and one that we’ve been missing out on for far too long. The Palace Theatre, usually home to the most magical of plays, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, throws open its doors for a limited time to a new West End show – Wonderville, which brings together some of the biggest names in magic to cast their spell over London this Summer.
The last time we saw a full blown magic show in the West End was when The Illusionists took up residence at The Shaftesbury in 2018. Wonderville follows a similar format but manages to feel entirely different.
Wonderville is headlined by five unique acts, with a sixth guest act that will vary across the performance run. On press night the guest act was Emily England, a circus performer who has transitioned to magic after finding success on Britain’s Got Talent and its transatlantic counterpart. The combination of circus skills and slight of hand is mesmerising and demonstrates why England would be an excellent plus one for your next trip to the casino.
Directed by Annabel Mutale Reed, each of the headline acts bring something very different to the stage. Perhaps the highlight of the evening comes from Chris Cox, who also acts as compere, warming up the audience with an affable routine.
His own performance, in which he reads the minds of audience members, is mind blowingly good. His style and delivery give the whole thing a peppy pace that culminates is gasps of disbelief from those lucky enough chosen to ‘sync’ up with Cox.
Josephine Lee, another ‘BGT’ alumni, was sadly injured on the official press night and was replaced by Kat Hudson, allowing Wonderville to claim credit for another West End debut. Husdon’s down to earth set ended up involving the entire audience for a collective moment of joy.
Magic Circle triple champion Edward Hilsum brings to the stage what can only be described as truly beautiful magic. It’s captivating and endearing, and one particular routine left me and many others slightly moist around the eyes. Hilsum’s gentle kind of magic is in stark contrast to the Hula Hoop display from Symoné, who alternates performances with Amazi. The upbeat tempo, rollerblading and immense skill with multiple hoops keeps the audience thoroughly entertained.
Young and Strange complete the headliners to combine illusion with comedy, but the levity doesn’t distract from the ‘big tricks’. Their tribute to Siegfried and Roy is particularly impressive, though it probably should have served as the finale.
The way Wonderville combines magic, circus skills and comedy makes for a very unique family friendly show. There might not be anything particularly new about any of the routines, and the transition from one to the other could sometimes be slicker, but on the whole it’s a highly entertaining production.
What was very clear was the performers appreciation of being back in front of an audience, while going to great lengths to ensure a Covid-safe environment, and for those wishing to escape the reality of the modern world, Wonderville is Vaudeville meets Vegas for a variety act that will delight a 21st century audience, no matter their age.