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CASPAR THOMAS: MORE MAGIC AND MENTALISM

Caspar Thomas’s “More Magic and Mentalism” act does not rely on the padding of a theme or series of stories. It is, instead, a solid hour of magic tricks linked only by Thomas’s cheerful and free flowing banter.

Thomas uses this format to showcase his variety of magical skills. This show includes everything—card tricks, objects vanishing into thin air only to be summoned back in to existence, magically accurate deductive reasoning, and the classic magic rings. While accidents do happen, and audience members in the front two rows might notice the glitter and clink of supposedly “vanished” coins a split second before they are scheduled to re-appear, these tricks are, on the whole, performed with precision and skill.

This skill is what sets Thomas’s act apart, and makes his show worthwhile. The large crowd that gathered outside the venue for Thomas’s Friday evening performance was evidence that his expertise is notable and appreciated. Additionally, his act is handy for newcomers to magic, as it takes them through a quick introduction to the varieties of magic that are common amongst modern magicians.

One particularly commendable feature of Thomas’s act is that he makes a point of requesting volunteers before randomly choosing them from the audience. It is common knowledge that all attendants of magic shows are fair game to be chosen by the magician and paraded about the stage, which can be very intimidating. Magicians like Thomas make their acts much more approachable.

A negative feature of note is the poorly situated venue. Loud conversation and amateur singing could be heard at several points throughout the performance. Thomas successfully played it off in front of the audience, which is why these disruptions did not spoil the show, but it would surely be even better if he could reach an understanding with the others in the venue to ensure that he commands the full attention of his audience.

Thomas’s “More Magic” show is unpretentiously enjoyable magic. This act goes for breadth over depth without sacrificing quality or amusement, making for a great show.

COLIN CLOUD: DARE

The long, winding queue full of people waiting to see Colin Cloud’s “Dare” this evening attests to his undeniable renown. It can be so easy, as an ordinary audience member, to dismiss mind reading magic as an elaborate network of actors in league with the magician, or as normal people playing along with the magician out of compassion and pity. But despite those uncertainties, Cloud’s mind reading act clearly resonates with his substantial fan base, and it is easy to understand why.

Cloud frequently references his fascination with cults, and this becomes a theme throughout his performance, although without overwhelming his illusions. Whether it’s instructing the entire audience to wear masks of his own face or enjoying his ability to get the audience to clap on command, Cloud’s playful acknowledgement of his own charisma sets a lighthearted tone for the evening.

This is perhaps what gives Cloud’s show its broad appeal. While most of the crowd on a Saturday evening appeared to be adults, it was easy to imagine a higher percentage of families with young children attending on summer weekday evenings. Cloud is fascinating enough to hold adults’ attention, and his tricks are entertaining enough to engage with younger audiences.

Magicians who perform mind reading tricks generally employ measures to convince the audience of their integrity. Cloud’s most interesting procedure to this effect is to take advantage of the ubiquity of social media. Early on in the show, Cloud requests that everyone post an embarrassing secret or shameful desire to social media using the hashtag #colinclouddare. He later guesses individuals’ secrets, and invites the audience to check his accuracy by reading through that hashtag. This clever blend of magic and social media marketing proves to be a delightful way of involving the audience in the act.

Colin Cloud delivers classic mind reading magic in a show for all the ages, and sets himself apart by incorporating social media in fun and interesting ways. Cloud then links this back in to his theme of cults to neatly bind his act together. The net effect is a solidly enjoyable evening of magical entertainment. Cloud describes himself as a real-life Sherlock Holmes, and his Fringe show is definitive evidence in favour of that claim—with the caveat that, unlike a detective, a magician never reveals his secrets.

BEN HART: BELIEF?

Early on in his show, Ben Hart compares magic to time travel- a way of recapturing the powerful feelings of surprise and amazement that many adults feel are gradually beaten down by the passage of time. His skillful and intriguing tricks in ‘Belief?’ certainly manage to inspire such emotions.

The hour does begin with a little bit more intensity than would perhaps be expected from a magic show. In his opening sequence, Hart describes the performance of the trick of making objects disappear as a form of self-harm; he details how performing such tricks caused him to forget who and where he was, losing his identity. This may have been part of why the first word used to describe his show in the official Fringe description is “dark”. Ultimately, it made me a little bit worried about him. That intensity continues as a theme throughout, although it quickly simmers down to calmer, less concerning, levels.

Hart continuously integrates his illusions into his storytelling. He tells the audience a story—topics range from describing prejudices against a sewage worker to an explanation of Schrodinger’s cat—and then transitions seamlessly into a trick with that theme. Hart keeps the audience engaged in his stories both with his personality and with clever use of light. For one story, he sits with a bright light shining directly on him, evoking a pleasant modern campfire effect.

This storytelling aspect does result in a lower concentration of actual magical content. While his entire act as an artist is certainly appealing to an audience composed primarily of adults, it is perhaps not the best choice for children. However, Hart engaged with the one child in his audience by inviting him to take part in one of the tricks, which is a nice gesture toward guardians who may have expected a more traditional child-oriented magic performance.

Hart’s show is an interesting and absorbing way to spend an hour. His use of storytelling both to entertain and to incorporate his magic into his theme gives his act a pleasant and calming flow. ‘Belief?’ does not feel like just another magic show, but a polished performance piece. Both the cohesiveness of theme and the pervasiveness of Hart’s personal style set this show apart and make it both enjoyable and worthwhile to watch.

AN INTERVIEW WITH HAYDINI

After Hayden Childress (aka Haydini)’s recent performance in Charlotte (review here), he gave reviewer Hannah R. the chance to chat with him a bit about his passion for magic.

Hannah: On your website it says you started performing magic when you were ten years old. What inspired you to start learning magic?

Hayden: I was always into weird things when I was younger. I can remember there was this Disney Channel Original Movie called Now You See Me, and during the commercial breaks they would teach magic tricks. I learned them and showed them to my family and friends and started from there.

Who would you say are some magicians and performers who inspire you?

I had the privilege to perform with Mack King in Las Vegas. What I really enjoy about his shows is how the magic comes from the crowd. Of course I also look up to people like David Copperfield and Penn & Teller.

We already know about your passion for magic, so what are some other hobbies you enjoy?

I really like learning languages and love music as well. I also enjoy being outdoors and hiking. I don’t own a lot and am pretty minimalistic; I like having experiences more than things.

You mentioned in your show you recently graduated from college. Do you feel you’ve been able to incorporate what you’ve learned into your performances?

Well, I went to business school so I’ve definitely been able to use what I learned in terms of marketing, merchandise, etc. As far as magic I always found data collection and its use interesting and I definitely like to see how I can apply that to magic by attempting to make correct predictions based on what I know.

You’re making quite a name for yourself in Charlotte and the audience really enjoyed your show. What do you have planned for the future?

My goals would have to be bigger shows and more cities. A lot of people who don’t live near big cities don’t have access to magic and I’d love to be able to take my show to places like that and give them a show they wouldn’t have otherwise.

 

If you’d like to see Haydini or learn more about him, visit his website

HAYDINI

You can often conjecture how well a magic show will play out just by taking a glance around the theatre. As I scanned the room for the best available seats, I couldn’t help but notice the demographics of the crowd; while there was a wide array of ages in attendance, there was definitely a large amount of children. While this isn’t necessarily a negative fact, I was initially concerned that either the magic would be catered to those who are younger or the act would struggle with child volunteers. I am pleased to say that I was proven wrong.

Our evening began with an introduction from the show’s “sponsor”, a Mr. N. S. A. touting the omnipresence of suggestive advertising and personal data collection. This small dip into suggestibility would be a common theme running through the evening. Haydini then presented us with the set up for an excellent reveal at the end of the show. Following this he quickly delved into a myriad of entertaining and well-executed sets, varying from sleight-of-hand to feats of mentalism. Each reveal earned him well deserved applause, impressing even the most discerning of audience members.

Haydini certainly excelled in incorporating the audience into his acts. He allowed individuals to choose whether they would like to participate, as opposed to selecting members who may be uncomfortable in the spotlight. Our magician worked well with each volunteer regardless of their age, which I’m sure you can guess is no easy task. His skill in improvisation allowed for him to adapt and make a situation comic that may have become awkward in the hands of a less skilled performer.

His improv skills certainly came of use during the show, as there were many times his technician was having issues with sound and light cues, which probably could have been fixed with a bit more rehearsing. While it did detract from the show a bit, Haydini managed each blip professionally and didn’t let the technical difficulties steal the show.

Ultimately, Haydini provides a fun, entertaining show that holds your attention throughout the entire evening. I would recommend his show to family and friends of all ages. The variety of his performance and the skill to which it was executed was captivating and attested to his prowess as a magician and performer. As he so aptly stated, “Anybody can cut you in half, but only a magician can put you back together.”

BIBS ‘N’ BOBS RELOADED

☆☆☆☆

Bibs ‘n’ Bobs Reloaded is a magic show exactly as it sounds, being constructed of simple objects from an ordinary Morrisons bag. As well as, of course, being a pun on magician Elliot Bibby’s surname. This show is a prime example that something created with the most humble of objects can become something fantastic.

As it is an unavoidable aspect of the Fringe, venue conditions are generally not fair play to comment on in a review. But when an act surpasses the limitations of their stage spectacularly, it is worth noting upon. Bibby transcends the obstacles his particularly difficult venue with impressive agility. It isn’t just his understanding of the necessity to elevate his tricks enough for everyone to see- although that is something a lot of Fringe magicians, including ones with ticketed shows, could learn from. But more specifically to his art, Bibby wove together his act so well that it grabs your attention away from any discomforts and distractions.

Bibby’s skill is in his presentation as well as attention to detail. Composed and dapper, Bibby charms without any of that stereotypical magician smarminess. His onstage persona is just genuine enough to foster a connection with the audience, but aloof enough to maintain a sense of mystery. He expertly handles heckling, both of the negative and of the positive but obnoxiously intrusive varieties. He has unfaltering intuition of when to humor the interjections and when to ignore them, having literally no missteps in this regard despite it being prevalent throughout his show.

In terms of actual illusions, Bibby intertwines the traditional and the imaginatively unique to create masterful magic. Using everything from cards and fire to the titular bibs and bobs in his bag, Bibby nonetheless maintains the needed cohesiveness to make his show polished and professional. Slick but funny from beginning to end, Elliot Bibby unquestionably proves his magical prowess and potential in Bibs ‘n’ Bobs Reloaded.

Originally published here.

AAABEDUATION: A MAGIC SHOW

☆☆

“We are the first show… in the Edinburgh Fringe Guide” magicians Malin Nilsson and Charlie Caper crow happily, claiming this as the reason for their strangely named show. This seems odd to be the sole reason to name a show, but as no other explanation is given, we just have to go with it. This sets the trend for this show which might have been inspired at the start, but doesn’t exactly follow through into a satisfying result.

Nilsson and Caper both hail from Switzerland and have been doing magic together for several years, so it is unfortunate that the chemistry together is the weakest aspect of the show. Caper is the comedy magician of the pair and Nilsson the choreographed illusionist. Instead of the two parts of the performance complementing each other, the combination is jarring in its delivery. However, they are both reasonably strong separately, so not a hopeless dealbreaker.

For most of her part of the show, Nilsson does magic tricks silently to music. They are very elegantly performed and she has an excellent sense of stylistic development, but they are a bit hackneyed. Even if someone only has seen a couple other magic shows, they have probably seen these illusions before. That’s no problem if presented with original flair and personality, but as she does them they just come across stale and the applause is accordingly muted.

Caper delivers with such endearing cheesiness that even things that shouldn’t be funny are because of his perfect presentation. An ongoing joke with a bow tie never fails to gain laughter and his great persona means that – although he also uses traditional magic in parts – it comes across as more original and compelling, if not as well rehearsed.

Caper and Nilsson struggle with integrating the two distinctive parts of their performance, but if they can solve this problem, Aaabeduation will succeed in becoming a bewitching show.

Originally published here