Man of Mischief Presents… Living the Dream! is advertised with a title and description, but without the name of the performer. Audience members who find their way down the graffitied corridor to its windowless venue might feel some apprehension. This is quickly dispelled by the cheery Mark Watson. He builds Living the Dream on the story of his escape from corporate life to become a professional performer, and his joy in his new career is evident at every step of the show.
The highlight of the show is Watson’s superb juggling. Other magicians might perform a bit of juggling as a novelty part of their show, but Watson is actually properly a juggler as well as a magician. While his knife juggling may be a little bit scary, it is well received by the majority of the audience. Unexpectedly, Watson also juggles cigar boxes. He tells the story of how this was a classic feature of historical juggling performances, which is easy to believe. Perhaps no one in the room knows as much about juggling as Watson, but it is difficult to imagine any other reason for him to independently decide that he wanted to learn juggling tricks with cigar boxes. Regardless, what he does with them is absolutely incredible.
Watson’s magic is a little bit more patchy. He starts strong, performing an escapist routine to escape from his suit jacket, a symbol of his past corporate lifestyle. However, several of his tricks involve relatively long set up times, and he does not fill this time as gracefully as he could. The results are nevertheless impressive. His interactions with the audience are similarly patchy. His joking interactions stray a bit too frequently into outright unkindness. On the other hand, he does still build up enough trust for one especially brave audience participant to allow Watson to juggle knives over his face.
Living the Dream is worth a visit for the juggling alone. Watson concludes the show by drawing a conclusion from his story, that everyone’s version of living their dream is different, and that he is grateful to be living his. By this point the audience is happy to share in his pride at finding self-actualization.