For theatre... online, non-professional, amateur


If you asked me to describe Wonderville in one word, it would be nigh-on impossible – it see-saws from one kind of act to another quicker than you can say “abracadabra!”.

A magic and illusion show, currently keeping the Palace Theatre warm until Harry Potter and the Cursed Child returns in the autumn, Wonderville is hosted by Chris Cox, who would give the Duracell Bunny a run for its money. His portions of the show are akin to watching an entertainer at a kids’ birthday party – you get used to the enthusiasm and bad jokes after a while, but it’s a bit jarring to start with. Wonderville’s posters are dark and vintage-looking, so Chris’s bouncy, cheesy energy wasn’t what I expected, but the mind reading he performs on random members of the audience is quite jaw dropping.

The pace of the show slows several times with the presence of “Stage Magician of the Year 2018” Edward Hilsum. Softly spoken, he talks about witnessing his first magic show aged seven and proceeds to produce dove after dove… after dove! from seemingly impossible places. There is nothing particularly dynamic about his act but it’s a solid display of good old fashioned slight-of-hand trickery.

Wonderville plays host to a different guest star each night, but we were treated to two as sadly, regular female illusionist Josephine Lee was injured and out of action. Our guest magicians were Kat Hudson and Emily England. Emily has been a Las Vegas headliner and contorts into all sort of impossible shapes whilst performing her mainly card-based act.

Kat Hudson, with her thick Hull accent, is relatable (or, as Alicia Dixon called her on Britain’s Got Talent, “normal”) and this section again feels different to some of the others, with no music and lots of audience interaction.

Then there is Symoné, a sassy roller skating hula hooper. I felt sad for her, as you really could tell this was a Monday night audience; for me, anyone roller skating on platform boots whilst spinning four hoops around various parts of their body deserves continuous whoops and applause but perhaps the audience were just mesmerised.

But the stars of the show are comedy illusionist duo Young & Strange. They have costume changes, truckloads of very expensive looking props (think sawing a woman in half etc), and really don’t take themselves too seriously. Plus, their last set, including pyrotechnics and two tigers (sort of), was backed by Phil Collins and other eighties power ballads, which ticks all the boxes for me!

Wonderville is described as “a vaudevillian journey of illusion [putting] a fresh, dynamic and thrilling spin on one of the greatest historical art forms”, but I’m not sure this is completely accurate. There is nothing that fresh or dynamic about the show, and certainly nothing an audience hasn’t seen before at a Royal Variety Performance or on the aforementioned Britain’s Got Talent. It could have been more cohesively put together and perhaps it should try and decide what kind of show it’s really trying to be. But the simple fact we’re all back at a theatre watching a grown man dressed as a tiger appear from a fiery silver box… I don’t think it matters too much.

  • : admin
  • : 02/08/2021