Kevin Quantum

MAGICFEST OPENING NIGHT CHRISTMAS GALA

☆☆

Despite the name, the MagicFest Opening Night Christmas Gala wasn’t necessarily the most Christmassy of experiences. But festivity aside, if one was in search for an eclectic display of extraordinary magic, the show definitely met those expectations.

Kevin Quantum was the perfect compere, putting the audience at ease from the start with slick card tricks and groovy dancing. Quantum’s expertise shone when a particularly difficult child participant threatened to derail the show. The way in which Quantum humoured the child whilst telling a completely different story to the audience was something only the best in the business could pull off. Quantum’s love for magic and the acts was admirable and ensured the audience was as excited as he was for each set.

The first act, Matthew Dowden, performed an array of traditional magic tricks that were well executed. Simple tricks that would have been less exciting had Dowden performed them himself were elevated by the use of audience participants. Particularly memorable was the gobsmacked look on a skeptical child’s face after they were left on stage to perform a trick’s finale alone – a bold risk that only a confident magician would be willing to take.

The highlight of the night was Young Magician of the Year 2019, Adam Black. The only act to tell a story through his tricks, he ensured that his set was cohesive rather than simply a demonstration of impressive magic. Black is a natural on the stage and his passion for magic shone brightly throughout. Black has a quality that is hard to put your finger on. He simply does something a little bit different, something a little bit special. He performed tricks that you had never seen before, and even if you had seen others do the tricks previously, the way he performed them was ingenious.

Powerful Chloe Crawford added an element of danger to the evening with a couple of gruesome tricks that the audience could only watch through their fingers. Crawford’s stage presence was especially notable, allowing her to perform her entire routine without uttering a single word. Particularly remarkable was the way in which, in total silence, she gained the trust of her participants and convinced them to join her in taking dangerous risks on stage. With a silent set, however, people watch Crawford’s expressions intently. She would do well to maintain her calm and confident expression even when things may not be going fully to plan, as with talent like hers, she will surely always skillfully resolve any issues- as she did on the night.

Your deepest darkest thoughts are not safe with concluding act, Colin Cloud, around! Cloud’s mind reading skills are simply unbelievable – he drew out numerous pieces of detailed information from various audience members with such pace that the audience did not even have time to applaud his efforts. Instead, they could only sit in a stunned silence. What makes Cloud’s performance most impressive is the sheer volume of information he extracts from the room in such a short amount of time – and the way he does it too, through taste and smell, is cunning.

Overall, the MagicFest Opening Night Christmas Gala was a thrilling evening of diverse acts. This diversity was, however, perhaps to the detriment of the show, which ultimately lacked cohesion under a common theme. But although lacking in that particular Christmas magic, it nonetheless satisfied the cravings of magic enthusiasts.

KEVIN QUANTUM: NEON FUTURE

☆☆☆☆

It is rare that a show literally starts with a bang.  It is unclear whether Kevin Quantum decided to use explosives in Neon Future specifically for this purpose or whether the bombs came to mind first, but he took full advantage of the opportunity that their involvement afforded him for an exceptionally exciting introduction.

The explosives set the tone for the show.  Quantum’s theme matches his title—the future—and from there his show explodes in all directions, encompassing everything from personal musings into the possibilities of a robotically enhanced humanity, the dialectic debate of destiny versus free will, The Matrix… and more typically magical pretensions to genuine clairvoyance.

Quantum is fantastically committed to this theme, altering every trick he performs to fit it.  A highlight in this respect is his version of the oldest trick in the world, which in Quantum’s world becomes a miniature futuristic teleportation device.  Quantum’s explanation of the history of the trick detracts from the moment ever so slightly, taking the audience out of the moment, but in fairness this is in keeping with the capricious nature of the flow that Quantum cultivates.

The audience has a high proportion of children, and Quantum is excellent in working with them.  He makes a point to involve them in the show, often selecting his participants entirely from the children of the audience, and tries to involve as many of the enthusiastic volunteers as is feasible.  On the other hand, there are points in the show where it is best to minimize child involvement, especially the sections involving the explosives, and Quantum makes the responsible decision to choose adult participants at these times.

Neon Future often feels like it is going in every direction, all at once, so it is impressive that Quantum makes it feel like a cohesive show.  This is perhaps in part him embracing that his early evening time slot and nominally semi-educational theme means that he might regularly attract a younger audience, and tailoring his act to suit those tastes.  And even adults can appreciate the childlike joy of watching things go boom.

 

More information on Kevin Quantum and his performance dates can be found here.

THE MIRACLE OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE

☆☆

The Miracle of Christmas Future set out a promising premise, advertised as futuristic magic performed by Charlie Caper, with his amazing robots, and Kevin Quantum, whose performances frequently incorporate his love of science.  They easily deliver on this.  While the show was not flawless, it had many magical and scientific highlights.

The most overtly futuristic element of the show is Quantum and Caper’s third performance partner, the artificial intelligence named Bob.  Bob primarily functioned as an emcee for the human magicians, occasionally also rating their performances, and even taking her turn at performing a magic trick.  While she was not convincing enough to make any reviewer or magician fear that they might soon be replaced by robots, her recurring participation in the show alluded to these exciting potentials for the future of AI.

This left the majority of the magic performed in Quantum and Caper’s able hands.  An unexpectedly lovely highlight was Caper reading a sad Christmas story while performing complementary magic.  This was an odd tonal choice, as it briefly brought the otherwise cheerful Christmas mood down several notches.  The apparently random tone shift only highlighted the disjointed nature of the show as a whole, as aside from Bob’s work as a show runner there was little binding the elements performed together.  This particular moment demonstrated that even that futuristic theme occasionally wavered.  However, the beauty of Caper’s performance made its inclusion worthwhile.

The disjointed feel of the show did not just come from the lack of consistent use of theme, but also from the way that Caper and Quantum rarely actually performed together, instead taking turns with their tricks.  This was a shame, as while no pairing could match the perfect connection between Caper and his robots, Quantum and Caper appeared to work well together when they did interact on stage.

Audience participation often seems to be one of the more challenging aspects of magic performance from the perspective of the watching members of the audience, as the wrong randomly chosen individual might not act according to the magician’s plan.  This looked to be the case in Quantum and Caper’s final performance of this run when two children got a little too competitive with their onstage task.  Quantum and Caper dealt this turn of events with professional aplomb.  Quantum was especially impressive in his handling of the unrulier child.

The futuristic theme of The Miracle of Christmas Future comes naturally to both Caper and Quantum.  It could perhaps even be the theme of each one of their individual magical careers.  Watching them collaborate in sharing that passion with the audience was the most magical part of the evening.

 

More information on MagicFest can be found here

KEVIN QUANTUM: VANISHING POINT

Kevin Quantum studied physics before he became a magician, and in Vanishing Point he explores the magical niche that he has created by combining his passion for both subjects. The stage is physically dominated by an enormous harmonic pendulum of his own creation that both starts and ends the show. Watching this pendulum in motion at the start of the show is a lovely meditative highlight. In between showing off his pendulum, Quantum performs his array of magic tricks with the theme of making things vanish.

One of Quantum’s primary sub-themes is the Bermuda triangle, famous for making ships, planes, and people mysteriously disappear. Quantum spends a fair amount of time setting up this theme, telling the audience about some of the better known anecdotes and even playing an audio clip from a plane right before it went missing in the triangle. His method of incorporating the theme into his magic tricks is appropriately cheeky for a magic show.

Loss of privacy and the increasing power of technology over humanity, another one of Quantum’s sub-themes, is much more timely, and potentially much more interesting. This time his cheeky nod to theme in the subsequent magic tricks is more of a build up to the big finish—it may feel underwhelming at first, but by the end of the show it proves fittingly impactful. Quantum circles back to his gigantic gadget, using the meditative qualities of his harmonic pendulum to make his point about the importance of living in the moment.

The foundation of Vanishing Point is in hybrids, as Quantum describes himself as a hybrid scientist-magician, and incorporates both magic tricks and scientific demonstrations into this show. Quantum takes this a step further in blending the tone of the show. It is both fun and lighthearted in turns and a bit more serious in others, but does not fully commit to either approach. The lighthearted bits at the beginning still have the dark undertones of death from the Bermuda triangle theme, and the delivery of the sincere message at the end still feels more like a stunt than a moral. This is not detrimental to the overall effect of the show, and feels on brand for Quantum, who has built his magical persona on hybridization.

Vanishing Point is creatively themed and well put together, and well performed in Quantum’s distinctive style. The creative emphasis is decidedly on the theme and non-magical props rather than the tricks themselves, but given the multi-faceted nature of the show this is not too noticeable. Vanishing Point is well worth a visit for those looking for see magic tricks presented in an inventively scientific format.

 

Kevin Quantum can be found at Underbelly Bristo Square during the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe at 18:45 from August 12-20, 22-26

More information on Kevin Quantum and his performance dates can be found here

KEVIN QUANTUM: AND FOR MY NEXT TRICK

 

In And For My Next Trick, Kevin Quantum fully embraces the silly side of magic.  The slightest notion of a theme gives the show some structure, while allowing Quantum to perform a wide range of varying tricks.  Quantum takes advantage of this freedom to show off an impressive breadth of versatility for an hour long show.

Early in the show, Quantum performs a well-judged card trick.  Quantum’s audience is just big enough that the people at the back might have had trouble seeing a playing card, but Quantum made sure to use a heavily marked card for the duration of the trick to avoid any such difficulties.  Quantum performs this trick with dexterity and poise, demonstrating his skill in classic sleight of hand.

Quantum gets into more story-based magic as well, with a magical attraction themed segment featuring a mock date with an audience participant.  In such a trick the choice of participant is key, as they have a slightly more involved role than just picking a card, and Quantum chose perfectly.  His participant appeared delighted to have her turn on stage, which made that part of the show even more delightful to watch.  The theme led Quantum into a performance that was at times more comedy-based than magic, but this was no disadvantage as he entertained the audience throughout.

Performing can be unpredictable, and Quantum is adept at handling potentially challenging variables.  Quantum has a good rapport with his audience.  If he teases the participants who he brings on stage he comes across as friendly rather than antagonistic.  Additional disturbances arose on this evening with equipment difficulties and an unusually noisy fan, but Quantum dismissed these with a smile and a joke, and did not allow them to have any detrimental effect on his performance.

Quantum uses And For My Next Trick to bring the audience on a quick journey through the more playful parts of his repertoire.  Quantum seems to be having as much fun on stage as the audience is having watching him, which makes him all the more enjoyable to watch.

 

Kevin Quantum can be found at Gilded Balloon Teviot during the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe at 21:30 from August 9-20, 22-26

More information on Kevin Quantum and his performance dates can be found here

MAGICFEST GALA: FAST & FURIOUS

☆☆

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.

WIZARD WORLD GATHERING

☆☆☆

MagicFest’s Wizard World Gathering has incredible potential as an event.  Harry Potter is obviously hugely popular, and magicians are ideally suited to bring the magic of Harry Potter into the muggle world.  There are certainly elements of the Wizard World Gathering that rise to the occasion.  The décor is incredibly detailed, the food and drink vendors have an admirable commitment to the theme, and framing the magic shows as “lessons” is an excellent way to create Hogwarts magic from stage magic.  However, the magicians themselves do not feel consistently committed to the Harry Potter theme, preventing it from being a cohesive event, and a few issues in the arrangement of the night detract slightly from its success.

The magic shows begin with R Paul Wilson’s “Expert Magic”.  From the start this is an outlier to the claimed theme, lacking in relevance to Harry Potter.  But to his credit, Wilson’s act itself is suitably entertaining; displaying his range of coin tricks and pickpocket-based card tricks.  Wilson may have misjudged the venue when planning one of his final tricks, which features him and several volunteers seated around a table.  Due to the layout of the theatre this is difficult to see, even from the middle of the audience.  The final effect is nevertheless impressive.

Kevin Quantum’s “Levitation Demonstrations” has an appreciably more Harry Potter theme.  Quantum takes a science fiction approach to this fantasy world, framing his show as his quest to discover a scientific means to levitate.  One of his tricks involving audience volunteers is really more of a trust exercise than a proper magic trick, which makes it all the more remarkable that Quantum is able to seamlessly include it in his act.  Quantum’s act feels less like a collection of tricks and more like a coherent theatrical production, with an admirable blend of his own magical style with the theme given to him.

“Time Travel 101” with John Henry Blackwood unfortunately often feels more hindered than helped by its theme.  Blackwood spends an inordinate amount of the middle of his act on a trick involving a toy plunger that is charming enough in and of itself but is only very loosely related to his own time travel concept.  However, he begins and ends with tricks that do genuinely use his theme to enhance the overall effect.  The stickers on the trunk that he uses as a table and the deathly hallows charm on his clothing are a lovely nods to the aesthetic of the evening.

Magic aside, there are a few issues that came up with the Wizard World Gathering itself.  As attendants enter the Assembly Roxy they are handed tickets with a couple of timings of the magic shows, but it is not explained that it is necessary to bring the ticket to that show time to be guaranteed a seat.   Many who were new to MagicFest took these timings as suggestions or reminders, and in the absence of an official explanation it fell to those who had attended previous similar MagicFest events to explain the system.  Also, in spite of the online description of the event as a party, the event really still feels like a series of magic shows.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but not what one is led to expect. There are few other activities in the central hall, and some are unexpectedly shut over an hour before the end of the event.  Additionally the Harry Potter quiz, while fun, could have done with a few more challenging questions.

That being said, the attention to detail in the decoration of the venue is absolutely fantastic.  The central hall is decorated as the Great Hall, and includes an intricately set up photo backdrop.  The common room, where the quiz is held, features a wall papered in book-print, and the bathroom even includes a snake sticker by one of the taps.  These details create a delightful atmosphere that is a highlight of the event.  Creating the right atmosphere is so crucial to events like this one, and for its flaws there are moments when attendees at the Wizard World Gathering feel truly transported to Hogwarts.