by Zahid Fayyaz
Fresh from a West End run several months ago, Wonderville has hunkered down to do its own residency at its own purpose-built venue at the former Planet Hollywood café in London’s Haymarket, a few minutes from Piccadilly Circus. Here for an open-ended run, there is a mix of magic and variety acts, playing on rotation.
With the venue set up as an old-fashioned variety hall, with cabaret tables and posters of old magic acts adorning the walls, this is an intimate show in a stunning setting. The opening night is expertly emceed by Desmond O’Connor and Chastity Belt, with Chastity in particular keeping the crowd entertained in between the acts with her wonderful singing, and connective patter with the audience. She brings the house down with her dresses and rendition of “Life on Mars”.
With the audience in a buoyant mood, they are receptive to the two and a half hour show. There are a number of different acts and different styles that hold their attention. Hula hooping, sword swallowing, a trapeze act by the hair, and a number of magicians are just some of them. Especially polished is Marc Oberon, who does some wonderful card acts. Abi Collins is also extremely funny, with her variety drunk act with an unwilling audience member being the highlight of the evening.
There are 50 acts on the roster for this event altogether, with different acts each night. Some of it is a little Butlins, and some of the quality is variable. Overall however, as it beds into the venue more, it is sure to be an entertaining evening out for family and friends, and certainly won’t leave anyone bored.
Wonderville: Magic and Cabaret has an open-ended run.
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