Renz Novani

RENZ NOVANI: POET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE

☆☆☆

For a magic show, Poet of the Impossible is curiously light on magic, at least in the illusions sense.  Renz Novani’s poetry and storytelling share the spotlight with his magic tricks.  It is clear from the beginning that this is because Renz is a compelling performer, both with and without his magic. It does mean that his show might feel exceptionally niche—his best audience will be those who enjoy both magic and poetry—but those boundary-defying qualities also lend him a wider appeal, as a performer first and foremost over his role as a poet or magician.

In a fun twist on classic playing card trickery, Renz frames an opening trick by talking about his early days of learning magic out of books, and then having an audience participant read instructions from a magic book to guide him through a trick.  The audience feels as if we are taking part in this childhood anecdote.  But of course the instructions that are read out are incomplete, and the audience is still amazed to see the trick succeed.

Renz ventures into less conventional magical props with his use of tarot cards for a mind reading trick.  He does briefly use them for their intended purpose, while acknowledging that he himself is not a believer in such fortune telling.  When he finishes by using the tarot cards to reveal his mentalist trickery he dazzles the audience on his own terms rather than those set by the cards that he is using.

Poet of the Impossible winds down show by Renz telling stories about magic while performing the magic that he describes.  In one he describes a childhood dream about fairies fixing his broken toy while fixing it on stage in front of the audience.  He uses this to then draw a parallel between dreaming and watching magic, with both allowing for temporary escape from reality.

Renz’s graceful magic combined with his spoken word performance gently reshape his audience’s perception of reality while keeping us grounded in the real world.  While fans of both magic and poetry might get the most out of Poet of the Impossible, the elegance of his performance is enchanting to all.

 

 

More information on Renz Novani and his performance dates can be found here

THE SECRET ROOM AT THE WRITERS’ MUSEUM

☆☆☆☆

At ‘The Secret Room at the Writers’ Museum’, the show kicked off outside the beautiful Lady Stair’s House with a few card tricks and a history lecture. This was to become a running theme throughout the evening. Three magicians were placed in writer-specific rooms in the museum, having each prepared a short presentation on their writer, and, of course, a magic show based on themes taken from that writer’s life or body of work. The audience was split in half on arrival, with attendees being handed either a red or black playing card, to better squeeze everyone into the relatively small rooms.

Renz Novani, the “Poet of the Impossible”, presided over the Robert Burns room. In between reading some Burns poetry and some of his own Burns poetry, Novani performed both mentalist and card magic tricks. His elegantly playful magic in combination with his enchanting spoken word performance made for a wonderful show. Novani’s evident passion for poetry and the magic of language made him a particularly suitable magician both for this event and more specifically for the Burns room.

The Sir Walter Scott room was filled by Ewan Callison’s flamboyant personality. While his larger-than-life persona may perhaps be better matched with a larger venue, he put together a combination of historical storytelling and primarily mentalist magic that flowed well with the intentionally small audience. That effectively assembled show proved to be entertaining as both a magic show and a comedic act.

The magician who welcomed the audience with the previously mentioned outdoor performance, Chris Cook, performed in the Robert Louis Stevenson room. Cook’s enthusiasm for the nautical themes- taken from Treasure Island- gave his series of sleight of hand tricks a sense of direction and cohesiveness, while his enthusiasm for performing magic imbued his performance with joy. Cook’s magic stood out as exceptionally astonishing, and left several members of the audience still expressing their amazement as they made their way out of the museum.

The Secret Room at the Writers’ Museum was an enjoyable evening of magic and history. It may not be for everyone, as some might prefer their magic without a literary lecture, but this reviewer loves a good history lesson. The venue and quasi-educational approach broadened the appeal of this event beyond the usual magic fans. This show, and presumably the other Secret Room events, showcased a select few of Edinburgh’s many tourist attractions in a decidedly different way than your standard daytime excursion. The Secret Room at the Writers’ Museum was a worthwhile visit both for magic enthusiasts and for those looking for a whimsical tour through one of Edinburgh’s most fascinating museums.

 

Runs Mon 3 July – Thur 6 July 2017 as part of the Edinburgh International Magic Festival; Lawnmarket, Lady Stair’s Close, Edinburgh EH1 2PA

RENZ NOVANI: SPELLBINDER- MAGIC AND MYSTORY

☆☆☆☆

I’m not a mentalist (yet?) but when I sat down at the beginning of Renz Novani’s show, I made a prediction. That prediction was that for his review I would be writing: “well, maybe Renz Novani is a good magician, but I can’t tell because I can’t see a goddamned thing except for the hair of the lady in front of me.” But like I said, I’m not a mentalist.

The room was tiny. Everyone was squashed together, and the rows of seats were only at two levels. The “stage” started right where the “audience” stopped, and it was tiny itself. But what could have been suffocating actually worked for the show.

Mr Novani’s affect was flawless for the space, and for his material. He didn’t try to be overtly theatrical, a choice that by making him seem bigger would have made the space feel even smaller. Instead, his show was like a conversation. We were visitors at Mr Novani’s, and he a kind host. And like any good host, he exuded sincerity, and seemed to connect deeply with his audience.

I’ve mentioned earlier that I as a rule don’t go onstage or interact in the acts I see. Well, I broke that rule last night. I didn’t plan on it, but the room was so small, I couldn’t exactly hide. And when I was picked, I just went with it. I was initially worried that my preexisting obsession with mentalism and fascination with the exact things he was doing would mess the show up because I was thinking so much, so I guess it’s a blessing that when I’m in front of crowds I lose the ability to think. I won’t go into too much detail about the trick itself, but all I can say is that I was amazed by his talent. At so many points I was tiny slivers of a whim away from making wholly different choices, and yet the trick worked- the prediction that Mr Novani had secured, earlier, with another audience member, was right. Because of choices that I made and numbers that the audience picked.This ability wasn’t limited to but one trick, either. He again and again left members of the audience dumbfounded with his mentalist ability and readings of their deepest wishes.

He genuinely had astonishing talent, and at the same time expertly presented his material in a manner that made a grim little room cozy and captivating. Combined with a brilliant finish, Mr Novani’s show really does leave you feeling weightless.

Renz Novani’s Fringe show is at Spotlights at Merchants Hall, at 8:40 pm until August 25th.

+Reviewer’s note: I left this show a little stunned, and not just because of residual nervous energy from being onstage. Of all the magicians that I’ve seen as of late, his particular talents were exactly everything I’ve ever wanted to study, understand, be. The beautiful mixture of clever tricks, calming but firm stage presence, and a deep understanding of and ability to work with human psychology is exactly what captivated me about this world in the first place. His ability to imbibe it with a sense of enchantment struck me on a deeply personal level. Also, I want to steal all his books.

 

 

More information on Renz Novani and his performance dates can be found here