Saturday, November 11, 2023

A Mangled Mind

If you've seen the farce The Play That Goes Wrong, you know how much fun the writing team of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields can be. Now that team is back with a new show called Mind Mangler: A Night of Tragic Illusion.

I saw the first preview last night, and I don't want to give away any of the show's secrets, but if you enjoyed The Play That Goes Wrong, you'll have a rollicking time at this show as well. Instead of watching an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery go off the tracks, though, you'll be watching one of the world's worst mentalists run into problem after problem as disasters mount up on stage.

Henry Lewis plays the titular Mind Mangler, a character who promises to mystify the audience, but more often has them roaring with laughter. Lewis plays the character straight, so when his tricks inevitable turn sour, the results are all the more hysterical. Occasionally, some of his tricks actually do work, which leads the audience to be delighted at being fooled when they least expect to be.

Jonathan Sayer plays a completely random audience member who just happens to be in the theatre wearing a shirt labeling him as such. While the Mind Mangler tries his hardest to make his stooge appear to be a randomly selected participant, Sayer's character consistently fails to do what he is supposed to, with predictably comical results.

What really makes the show, however, is its heart. The Mind Mangler, recently divorced and attempting to get his life back on track with a nationwide tour of the U.S., is trying his hardest, which gives his failures an emotional resonance in addition to their comedic absurdity. Check it out if you can!