The stage at the Traverse Theatre sets the tone for the Magicfest Christmas Special “The Secret Gift” with a lovely silhouette of the Edinburgh skyline, featuring hanging lights appropriately reminiscent of the enchanted candles of Hogwarts.
The show is hosted by Kevin Quantum, who weaves Christmas cheer through the evening with his between-act entertainment. His commitment to the Christmas theme in each of his appearances is admirable. Quantum is at his charming best when interacting with his audience participants, and holds the attention of parent and child alike with his engaging misdirections.
The first act to take the stage is Chris de Rosa and his glamorous assistant in The Art of Illusion. This act features many classic magical effects, with the two surviving a variety of seemingly fatal situations. This pair excels at coordinating their turns in the spotlight to support each other’s performances. De Rosa and his partner return to the stage as the final act of the evening, with a more festively themed take on their signature style. Their closing trick is a suitably playful end to the program.
Professor Kelso follows with a decidedly more comedic form of magic. While his sleight of hand and mind reading clearly delight the audience, it is his fantastic character that keeps the audience laughing during his time on stage. Kelso is the other performer who appears twice in the show. His second performance is a break from the usual course of the show, featuring Kelso leading the audience in a sing-along of a Christmas carol that he has re-written to a magic theme. This level of audience participation lends a pantomime atmosphere to this portion of the evening.
Another break in the usual course of magic comes from Señor Pérez, who is not a magician, but a bubble artist. Neither properly magical nor especially Christmassy, Pérez’s bubble choreography is nevertheless enchanting. His ephemeral creations prove truly captivating to watch.
The final magician, David Blanco, performs a series of card and coin tricks. His decision to perform these tricks in a relatively large theatre may initially seem questionable, as both are more commonly performed for smaller audiences, but the dimensions of the theatre, and Blanco’s clever use of the largest coins available, means that his tricks are still relatively visible from the farther side of the audience. The commendable scaling of close up magic for a larger audience in this act allows this show to demonstrate a wide range of magic styles.
The variety of acts in “The Secret Gift” makes for an exciting evening. The show seems especially popular with families with young children, and the performers successfully cater to the range of age groups in the audience. The overarching festive cheer of this show successfully extends the magic of Christmas well beyond its usual temporal limits.