edinburgh magic fest



Disclaimer: The “real” review of MagicFest’s Christmas show can be found here. But, we had an extra reviewer in Edinburgh keen to see the show, and once upon a time a reviewer joked to our Editor-in-Chief, “hey what if we did drunk reviews for shows as second reviews” and, terrifyingly, our Editor-in-Chief took this joke seriously. Enjoy! 

I went to see the secret gift. A MagicFest production for the Christmas season. Kevin Quantum is the compare and has come on in leaps and bounds since I saw him hosting  MagicFest. Edinburgh is the stage back drop and there are lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling and the whole theatre is beautiful to start. Admittedly, as I am drunk reviewing my first thoughts are “Pretty… why am I here? Oh yes, Magic!”.

Kevin made champagne from thin air, then introduced “The Art of Illusion” a Scottish illusion team. Male and female. Steryotypical magic tricks, woman in box disappears; but I have never seen that done before and it is breathtaking. They are an attractive pair, strong and able, and perfectly suited to the stage. The magicians assistant did not shy from the spot light. The one area that could have used a different trick was between sets the male magician pulled a long cord from his mouth, from my perspective all I could think was “TAPEWORM”!” I think there needed to be a break but something different to a tapeworm could be used.The show focused around using sex to distract from what was going on. A clever trick in some respects.

The next act is the hilarious Professor Kelso. He has a Shakespearean excellence about him. His voice, his act, it is all hilarious before the magic starts. He says he is a hypnotist, no! a magician no! a mind reader! No!  Magician! It is a great beginning. He has the costume and the voice and the act. But then he moved to cheap fortune telling. That could have been different. He has so much going for him but I found the reading of the audience dull and unrewarding. Well done, after 20 questions you have the correct answer. He has a lot of talent to be on the stage but needs to move away from fortunes. You are not a grandmother Professor Kelso!

There was an act before the interval from caberet rather than magic but let me tell you! It is magical to me! My mind is blown. The Bubble Poet came on stage with his act, and though I know what is happening, it is amazing! He is a stage artiste! He can make magic happen before your eyes in coloured smoke and dish detergent. Phenomenal.

After the interval Kevin worked his magic with his introduction, then brought on stage a rather interesting Spaniard by name “David Blanco”. By this point I was somewhat intoxicated and found David to play on his race rather more than necessary. He was a slight of hand magician who also performed card tricks. Inticially I thought “typical, playing on suggestion, and playing on accents” but he is very amusing. And very good at what he does. He uses his “foreign-ness” to his advantage.

Professor Kelso is back on stage to perform the “12 days of Magic”. He is so good at the piano it is a shame to see him go to waste filling time like this. It was caberet but not especially special or interesting. The “12 days of Christmas” or whatever is done! Move on. Kelso is an excellent character who deserves lots of time in the sun performing interesting pieces for the mind, not for the child.

Kevin came back and performed a hilarious piece about mind wandering. Where is the ball? Here or here? Used sexual tension as a joke which seemed cheap but followed up with pure quality misdirection. He misdirected you here, so you didn’t notice the misdirection over there. Very well done. Huge amounts of showmanship, and I would like to learn a trick or two from you. Producing lemons! Amazing!

Finally “The Art of Illusion” came back on stage. A winner to begin but now at the end (after a few drinks) it’s clichéd and over done. The beautiful assistant being your distraction, really!? I’d like to see the same show performed with a man. It was well done, steryotypical tricks, which I think modern theatre is lacking. But what modern theatre is also lacking is equality. Wearing leather boots does not equal tiny Santa costume. You are good at being a magician. Don’t diminish it by being a sexist.

Overall a wonderful show. I saw MagicFest and this was a level beyond. Well done, well performed.




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