Colin Cloud

COLIN CLOUD: PSYCHO(LOGICAL)

Colin Cloud begins Psycho(logical) by saying that as, in this show, he will be discussing us, the audience, it is really our own fault if we do not like it.  This sets the tone perfectly—Cloud maintains that ominous and facetious balance steadily for the duration of the show.  Cloud consistently astounds his audience with his mind reading tricks, and uses both classical and unusual techniques for scary magic to great effect.

The first half of Psycho(logical) is more expected magical fare.  The audience files in to find Cloud already on stage, taking notes, but his condition quickly evolves into an escape artist themed situation.  Cloud’s calm demeanor throughout his change in situation could be interpreted two ways, either that he is confident in his control over his show, or that his tranquility when facing apparent death does indicate that he is, as the title of is show suggests, a psychopath.

Midway through the show Cloud switches gears, framing the majority of his second half as a séance-style attempt to communicate with the dead.  This is, he explains, a bit of a tribute to the creator of his beloved Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a prominent spiritualist.   This spiritualist theme allows Cloud to incorporate mind reading, hypnotist, and even meditative techniques to create his effects.  The emphasis is always on the mind reading, Cloud’s specialty, but the addition of the more varied techniques accentuates the story line of that segment, to Cloud’s benefit.

Notably, given the nature of Cloud’s show, he is nevertheless kind to his audience participants.  Cloud reserves the majority of his sinister affectations for the audience as a group, and is much more considerate when interacting with the individuals who put themselves before their peers to help him perform his tricks.

The split format of Psycho(logical) works well for Cloud.  While his séance themed section is certainly engaging, the premise may have felt a bit thinly stretched if he had attempted to hold it for the entire hour.  The only issue is that he did spend such a significant portion of his show on a segment that seemed to have little to no relation to his Psycho(logical) theme.  Cloud did end with a throwback to the start of the show that successfully tied the evening together, but these were external to the séance section.

Psycho(logical) is dependably impressive and reliably entertaining throughout.  Cloud’s séance section was a delightfully creative framework both to showcase his mind reading tricks and allow him to explore related techniques, but did feel like its own self-contained mini-show dropped randomly into the otherwise Psycho(logical) themed main event.

At the start of the show, Cloud claims that any member of the audience may be unknowingly sitting beside a psychopath.  By the end, the one thing that is clear is that, regardless of Cloud’s true mental state as a man, as a magician he certainly plays an entertaining psychopath.

 

Colin Cloud can be found at Pleasance Courtyard during the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe at 20:00 from August 9-13, 15-27 

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.

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: KILLS

☆☆☆

Colin Cloud is the ultimate rockstar mentalist, or as he styles himself, deductionist. He has succeeded in cultivating the most intriguing aesthetic for himself, combining the Victorian mysteriousness of his idol Sherlock Holmes with his own flashy modern tech and dramatic reveals. The astoundingly talented showmanship he demonstrates means that even if his deductions should falter, the entertainment factor never will.

The first part of Cloud’s show consists of him deducing information about the members of his audience- personal or even secret information. There are some awkward falters in this bit, and it seems that truly accurate deduction might rely on being familiar with a large variance of nationalities, which is quite a challenge with the international crowd at the Edinburgh Fringe. However, he does not allow setbacks to disrupt the momentum of the show whatsoever, and brushes off the mistakes so easily and with such quick wit that you would almost believe it was intentional. As he warms up, as well, his powers of deduction kick in most impressively. Even though the shocked gasps of people having unspoken information revealed can never really get old, Cloud makes sure the show does not stagnate by filling it with many different methods of deduction. All with the same premise, but happening in unique and hilarious ways. Every time you think you know how he does it, Cloud immediately proves you wrong.

Just when it seems the show has ended, Cloud lights a candle and solemnly informs us of a new skill he has learned, a new outlet of his powers. What is the worst thing someone with Cloud’s particular talents could do? Well, it’s right there in the title of the show. Unfortunately, perhaps in a haste to become akin to the next Derren Brown, Cloud has premiered this trick before it was finished being perfected. There is a large amount of leading to make sure the audience understands the magnitude of what is about to happen, which would be acceptable if it weren’t for the fact that it never really happens. As far as presentation goes, this demonstration has no faults. It is slick and intriguingly tense. But if you’re paying attention, you will realize that there is no definitive payoff. However, the reality is, it would not be obvious to everyone in the audience, and that is to Cloud’s credit. Colin Cloud is a skillful pied piper of his audiences, and if he says “be impressed”, we will be. After all, nothing could be as impressive as his closing trick, where one deduction from the beginning of the show comes back around to prove that, ultimately, Colin Cloud is smarter than the rest of us combined.

Originally published here

COLIN CLOUD: THE FORENSIC MIND READER

☆☆☆☆☆

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.