Review: The Mind Mangler has the magic formula for laughter at Milton Keynes Theatre

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
If there's a magic formula to get an audience in hysterics for the entire duration of a two-hour theatre show – then the Mind Mangler certainly has it.

Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre on Monday evening and cast a spell on everyone in the auditorium with its mix of chaotic comedy.

Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer, creators of the global smash hit The Play That Goes Wrong and BBC TV’s The Goes Wrong Show, are on tour in this two-man performance which offers a totally different experience to anything I’d seen at MKT before.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Henry plays the Mind Mangler, who attempts to tune into his audience’s thoughts. The show plays like a series of mini sketches as he takes us through his repertoire of tricks – and he prays one or two might just come off!

Mind Mangler featuring Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer. Photo by Pamela RaithMind Mangler featuring Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer. Photo by Pamela Raith
Mind Mangler featuring Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer. Photo by Pamela Raith

His many failures are either glossed over, he blames his assistant/fake audience member (Jonathan), or he abuses the public for mucking things up by not playing his mind games correctly.

His successes are limited, generally mediocre, and usually achieved by trickery, lies and deception, and “plants” within the crowd. It was all brilliantly done and produced laughs aplenty.

The show relies heavily on audience participation (so get ready to skirm in your seat for fear of being picked on!) and what makes it even better is the way the actors manage to ad-lib when things don’t go quite to plan and they get unpredictable responses from the public.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Our Mind Mangling friend, who reminded me of a hyperactive Michael MyIntyre, wanted to know his audience’s secrets (however sordid they were!) throughout, but his powers of perception left a lot to be desired.

Name predictions, job predictions, guessing of randomly chosen colours and playing cards were all unimpressive tricks – but of extremely impressive comedy value.

“This is not my only skill!,” he’d utter desperately before moving onto the next demo of his “special powers”.

Some of the set-pieces were spectacularly awful... in a great way!

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His glass vanishing cabinet had been broken and so MK Theatre’s Haagen Dazs fridge was borrowed to hilarious results as he attempted to disappear from the stage.

Other highlights were ‘Quick Fire Jesus’, a £20 note tumblers trick, contacting a dead relative with a Ouija board, and spoon bending which didn’t appear to work but did have some spectacular results nevertheless.

The Executioner’s guillotine was brilliant as our host was locked in by two padlocks with random 4-digit codes from the audience. Would he be able to use the power of the mind to work out the codes and escape before the counter runs out and the blade drops?

Two hours of fun was over far too soon – and I didn’t need to read anyone’s mind as I left to know everyone had enjoyed a fantastic night out.

The show is only here until Wednesday, June 5, so don’t delay, book your tickets via ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.