MagicFest’s gala this year is themed Fast & Furious, and is notable for its scarcity of traditional magic. The host is the one self-described magician of the ensemble—although, to be fair, he is joined on stage by an illusionist troupe. This works to the gala’s advantage simply because inviting a wider range of entertainers allows for more options in putting together an interestingly varied show.
Kevin Quantum returns to host the gala. Perhaps in acknowledgement of his status as the only traditional magician of the evening, Quantum does a fair amount of magic in between the main acts. His assortments of tricks are a disjointed jaunt through the world of magic that keeps everyone well entertained in the transition times. He has a considerate rapport with the audience, using a combination of volunteerism and random selection to choose the participants that join him on stage to ensure that as many eager viewers as possible get their chance in front of the crowd.
Like many magicians, Javier Jarquin’s act uses a lot of playing cards. However Jarquin is not a magician, he is the Card Ninja, so rather than stealthily manipulating his cards he demonstrates methods for throwing them. Despite his variety of throwing methods, this may get a little bit repetitive for some audience members. Jarquin’s enthusiasm and audience interaction help him continue to engage them.
Tom Crosbie’s Rubik’s cube themed performance is next on stage. His Rubik’s cube solves are fast, and his cheerful chatter of stories and facts—nearly entirely about Rubik’s cubes—matches the speed of his hands. Crosbie creates different solve situations, alternately tossing his cube to the audience to get in mixed up and keeping it in his own hands to show off his quickest solution methods, to get the maximum mileage out of his single cube.
The illusionist company Magus Utopia splits their act, performing the first half directly before the interval and the second half at the very end of the gala. This is an effective format for them in this particular show, both to increase the suspense of their story and ensure that their numbers and theatrics do not overwhelm the other performers. Illusionists are a staple of traditional magic, but Magus Utopia’s fantasy aesthetic aligns them with modern trends in popular culture, and the emphasis on the plot of their act gives new life to old magic tropes.
The audience returns from the interval to MC Hammersmith, a freestyle rapper comedian. Such a large proportion of his spoken comedy relies on stereotypes that this does make his act occasionally feel outdated, despite his youthful appearance. However, his freestyle rapping is exciting to witness, as he creates connections between random audience suggestions incredibly rapidly while maintaining the rhythm of his rap. The improvised comedy of his raps is creative and fresh.
The final performer of the gala is James Freedman, a professional pickpocket. His skilled demonstration of pick pocketing techniques was enhanced by one of his audience participants, whose absolute astonishment at seeing his possessions in Freedman’s hands gave the rest of the audience a glimpse into what it might feel like to have their pockets picked so thoroughly by Freedman’s nimble fingers. Freedman proves his mental as well as manual dexterity in an impressive identity theft bit that feels fittingly akin to a magic trick.
MagicFest’s Fast & Furious gala includes an admirable assortment of acts over the course of the production, and it draws strength from this variety to build a lively show. The diversity of the acts ensures that there is something for everyone.