edinburgh magic festival

THE SECRET GIFT

The stage at the Traverse Theatre sets the tone for the Magicfest Christmas Special “The Secret Gift” with a lovely silhouette of the Edinburgh skyline, featuring hanging lights appropriately reminiscent of the enchanted candles of Hogwarts.

The show is hosted by Kevin Quantum, who weaves Christmas cheer through the evening with his between-act entertainment.  His commitment to the Christmas theme in each of his appearances is admirable.  Quantum is at his charming best when interacting with his audience participants, and holds the attention of parent and child alike with his engaging misdirections.

The first act to take the stage is Chris de Rosa and his glamorous assistant in The Art of Illusion.  This act features many classic magical effects, with the two surviving a variety of seemingly fatal situations. This pair excels at coordinating their turns in the spotlight to support each other’s performances.  De Rosa and his partner return to the stage as the final act of the evening, with a more festively themed take on their signature style.  Their closing trick is a suitably playful end to the program.

Professor Kelso follows with a decidedly more comedic form of magic.  While his sleight of hand and mind reading clearly delight the audience, it is his fantastic character that keeps the audience laughing during his time on stage.  Kelso is the other performer who appears twice in the show.  His second performance is a break from the usual course of the show, featuring Kelso leading the audience in a sing-along of a Christmas carol that he has re-written to a magic theme.  This level of audience participation lends a pantomime atmosphere to this portion of the evening.

Another break in the usual course of magic comes from Señor Pérez, who is not a magician, but a bubble artist.  Neither properly magical nor especially Christmassy, Pérez’s bubble choreography is nevertheless enchanting.  His ephemeral creations prove truly captivating to watch.

The final magician, David Blanco, performs a series of card and coin tricks.  His decision to perform these tricks in a relatively large theatre may initially seem questionable, as both are more commonly performed for smaller audiences, but the dimensions of the theatre, and Blanco’s clever use of the largest coins available, means that his tricks are still relatively visible from the farther side of the audience.  The commendable scaling of close up magic for a larger audience in this act allows this show to demonstrate a wide range of magic styles.

The variety of acts in “The Secret Gift” makes for an exciting evening. The show seems especially popular with families with young children, and the performers successfully cater to the range of age groups in the audience.  The overarching festive cheer of this show successfully extends the magic of Christmas well beyond its usual temporal limits.

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