It takes a good magician to entice a busy Edinburgher to Glasgow on a Wednesday evening. Luckily, Billy Reid is worth the trip. Reid makes his audience for Watch Closely feel welcome as soon as they step through the door, taking the time to learn as many people’s names as possible. This allows him to address many of his participants by name when inviting them to take part in his show, giving the entire performance a pleasantly intimate and relaxed atmosphere.
The majority of Watch Closely is close-up card tricks, which Reid performs with neatness and style. Reid lists the awards that he has received for his magic at the beginning of his performance, but he does not really need to, as his evident skill speaks for itself. Reid’s card tricks set the standard for precisely performed magic, and his storytelling and comedy are executed with the same dexterity, ensuring that the energy of his performance remains constant as he transitions between tricks. Watch Closely is narratively and thematically cohesive, as Reid uses stories from his life to gradually guide the audience toward the inspiring message with which he ends the show.
If you are a magic fan, you’ve probably seen some of the same tricks repeated often, especially if you see the same magician more than once. But Reid’s tricks are so visually beautiful that watching them again is a joy more similar to that of revisiting a piece of art at a museum. The use of color in a trick themed on childhood memories of outdoor adventures sets this tone, and it is epitomized in Reid’s incredible illustrated deck that is always a highlight.
Every so often the right performer at the right time is more than entertainment, but also an inspiration to their audience to view the world differently, or the medium to help them process emotions that they might not have even known needed processing. Reid conveys all of this intensity with his trademark artistry, in what is still unmistakably and unapologetically a magic trick. The title of his show initially sounds like standard magician bravado, challenging his audience to catch his sleight of hand. By the end of the evening the double meaning becomes clear, that Reid uses his magical skills to encourage his audience to pay closer attention to their own lives.