Colin Cloud

THE ILLUSIONISTS

☆☆☆☆

The Illusionists claim to be the “largest touring show in magic history anywhere,” but it is not just in size that they dominate the stage magic world. This show features a broad breadth of magic sub-fields, ensuring that no matter what style sparks your interest, there’s something spectacular for you at this performance.

The magical emcee of the Illusionists is Jeff Hobson, whose showmanship is the greatest boon to the performance as a whole. This comedy magician has a grandiose, flamboyant persona and wickedly slick wit, with a clever crack at the ready no matter what his volunteers or the audience do. Not only are the jokes fast but his hands as well, and in one memorable case, his tongue.

Attending a magic show, an audience expects to see some things they can’t explain. But having the thoughts plucked right out of their minds has it’s own special shock value. This illusion is delivered by Colin Cloud. Billed as ‘the Deductionist,’ the comparisons to Sherlock Holmes are blatant. Funnier than Benedict Cumberbatch and more dapper than Jeremy Brett, Cloud’s astute predictions are both impressive and terrifying.

Andrew Basso is  ‘The Escapologist’, and recreates one of Houdini’s greatest feats, the Water Torture Cell. Although, if the reaction of the ladies in the audience is any indication, he’s a bit more fit than his inspiration. It’s a bonus for them that the cell walls are clear, so we can see exactly how Basso expertly breaks out of his bonds, even under the intense pressure of holding his breath for several minutes.

Anti- Conjurer Dan Sperry strikes an attitude contrast to his peers, with no geniality to offer Sperry instead has a sullen menace that pairs appropriately with his wince-worthy tricks. No matter how desperate you are to see what’s going down, it takes a brave soul to peek through their fingers at this grotesque magic.

Rounding out the cast are ‘The Inventor’ Kevin James, with dramatic displays of craftily constructed magic, ‘The Manipulator’ Halim An with a beautifully choreographed sleight of hand, and ‘The Daredevil’ Jonathan Goodwin with heart-stoppingly stressful stunts that are also much to the credit of his assistants.

It is perhaps not a straight-forward compliment to say that the Illusionists are like magical hors d’oeuvres. Delivering short performances in rapid- fire, you never exactly feel like you’ve gotten the meat of the magic show, or like you’ve gotten to see each individual magician at their best. Just when you get attached to one flavor of magic, you’re two conjurers later. But there is an undeniable benefit to this recipe, that even if one magician isn’t to your taste, you get at least three more that are. Food metaphors aside, because they’re getting labored, The Illusionists is the perfect magic show to make you realize that you do actually like magic shows.

March 29, Heymann Performing Arts Center, Lafayette LA.

More information about the Illusionists and further dates of their tour can be found here.

 

COLIN CLOUD: THE FORENSIC MIND READER (2)

☆☆☆☆☆

Any act that incorporates Sherlock Holmes will always have my automatic affection. But the effortless ease with which Mr Cloud incorporated his fascination with the character is spectacular on it’s own merits.

One challenge of the Fringe is that which room you are in definitely sets the tone for your show. And some of the Fringe venues are a little bit shoddy, or even nice but unintended for the purposes they’re now being used for. I got that impression off the Just the Tonic room that Mr Cloud’s show was in. However, his minor additions manged both to blend with the initial surroundings and, for lack of a better phrase, “class the place up a bit.” The tightly packed audience (sold out!) combined with the backdrop, gave off the sensation that you could, in fact, have been transported back to the Victorian era, and found yourself in the fictional detective’s sitting room- both dubious but undeniably curious at what secrets you were wearing in your facial expressions that he would see right through to.

And as if straight from the pages of one of these stories, Mr Cloud delivered his astonishing skill. The audience was repeatedly stunned at the ability he had to seemingly pick thoughts right out of his participants heads- the word from a favorite childhood book, a random number they had only then decided upon themselves, an image chosen from countless possibilities recreated right in front of their eyes. All done with a practiced air of charm and just a little bit of impatient disdain for participants who had trouble following simple directions. After all, nothing could be more Sherlockian. His showmanship was thoroughly on point, softening the adopted affect of superior wisdom by sharing his audience’s enthusiasm.

For a tone so steeped in the air of mystery, Mr Cloud does not pretend to be psychic. Rather, he is upfront about the psychological background of the techniques he uses. He perhaps leaves out mentions of old-school mentalist trickery employed, but we are all here to be entertained. There is a certain thrill to being left bewildered, and Mr Cloud knows where to draw the line between explaining how he’s reading participants lies and leaving bits up the the audience’s baffled imaginations. The combination between his skill at mentalism and his clever wit and showmanship make The Forensic Mind Reader a brilliant and utterly enjoyable experience.

The last three days of Colin Cloud’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe run at Just the Tonic are currently completely sold out, but you may be able to snatch up returns a couple hours before the performances at 5:55pm.

+ Extra note: I have seen this show before, during the Edinburgh Magic Festival. But this review is purely on the merits of the Fringe performance on August 20th.

 

COLIN CLOUD: THE FORENSIC MIND READER

☆☆☆☆☆

The musical interludes of Colin Cloud’s Edinburgh International Magic Festival show were borrowed directly from modern adaptions of Sherlock Holmes, something I remarked to my friend “is that even legal?” I’m sure it is in actuality, and what they prove is something the mentalist made no attempt to hide- he is obsessed with the fictional detective. However, something Mr. Cloud has mastered that that particular character would be utterly uninterested in was a masterful sense of showmanship. This, combined with his skill-homage to the detective, is the strength and power of his show.

But let’s take a step back. When the friend and I finally found our venue, 45 minutes early and flustered, the lobby was near empty. Which means that Mr Cloud, who was waiting there for audience members to arrive, approached us immediately. He presents himself as a very charming, sincere man. The ascetic people expect of those in his profession is not lost on him- his clothing choices were on point and stylish, but with just enough hair flair to say ‘I’m an individual’. (Hey, this isn’t a criticism. Always appreciate some hair flair. Everyone needs a trademark.) He introduced himself, and asked us to write some information on a sticky note that was on his clipboard- Full name, post (or in our heavily- American accented cases, zip code), where we worked or if we had a pet and it’s type and name, and a question and answer. All these were to be things he couldn’t find out through internet stalking and would be impressed if he knew. Keep this in mind- this is important. We then were instructed to keep our sticky notes.

The show itself was impressive, to say the least. The venue was small, but the seats were well filled, and Mr. Cloud knew how to utilize the space. One of the key things that I notice is not people who know the mental capabilities of their role well, but who have the necessary showmanship. And charisma was a strength in this case. Mr. Cloud captured his audience with humor, which carried him through any incorrect guesses or uncertainties in his routine. In fact the only problem I had with his set was due to his comedic attempts. Someone much teach, in Comedy 101, that sexist jokes will always work, because male audiences will always laugh if you say all women are good liars (twice. fucking twice), and the women are conditioned just to take it. I don’t blame Mr. Cloud as an individual for this- it’s a comedy staple. (I blame society, but that’s just the ranty feminist in me. I digress). This just seemed particularly out of place because perhaps a small majority of the audience members were women.

But back to what you’re here for. The mentalist acts included things like predicting the card a random audience member would choose, the ‘simple picture’ an audience member would draw, and the words on a page of a book audience members would pick. He knew the amount of money in another random audience member’s wallet, and could take the numbers that about five different people randomly thought up and multiply them to be the exact date and time as when he announced this feat. He also played a game in which he could guess which color button an audience member had hidden in his hand, and then which hand it was in. This involved having the participant in question imagine, essentially, murdering a popular celebrity in a vacation destination with a dubiously effective weapon. (You pretty much just have to see this for yourself, folks.)

At one point towards the end, Mr. Cloud has the lights turned off, with two audience members sitting next to him. holding his wrists to ensure he didn’t move from his spot. Then, he had the audience call out things, which he would focus in on. I was fortunate enough to be amongst his choices. When Mr. Cloud had us shout out our initials, he zeroed in on mine. He asked the person whose they were to make ourselves known, but there were two of us with those initials, so he said the person with the ‘foreign sounding name’. This is pretty funny in that perhaps to native Brits, my German- sounding name is noticeable. But I’m from the US. 80% of names sound foreign- it’s not really something you notice. But okay, he remembered the name itself. Things moved along. He then attempted to determine where I was from, and he was close! Very close, which I told him. He wanted to know how close, which was problematic, as I am incapable of estimating distances, even ones I’ve traveled thousands of times. Now, I don’t know if Mr. Cloud was intentionally wrong so that he could get the correct answer later and I thwarted that by not knowing that Torrance is aprox. 10 miles from Palos Verdes or if he simply didn’t know- something I’m getting to. He also correctly determined I have a cat named Fae and wondered what to do with my life- whether I should join the Navy.

All of the information leading up to this could be found on my facebook, if you really cared to look. I’ve done more in-depth fb stalking than that. However, I’ve only discussed my intentions towards the Navy with 3 people, and in private settings. So yep, pretty amazing.

 

Colin Cloud- talented mentalist, fantastic theatricality and rapport with audience. GO SEE THE SHOW. http://colincloud.com/

Mentalist abilities: 4/5

Showmanship: 5/5

Overall: 4.5/5