REVIEW – International Magic Festival Gala, Lyceum Theatre.



Gala performance

By Elliot Bibby 

From dancing brush handles to quick-change artists, the Edinburgh Magic Festival drew to a close with a spectacular gala show last night in the Royal Lyceum Theatre. The 2-hour performance showcased the talents of six performers and two socks entertaining the packed theatre.  Compered by the very funny Gavin Oattes, it was an excellent family night out.

The French magician Xavier Mortimer opened the show, with some incredible manipulation using cymbals, making butterflies appear, and then an amazing dancing cane routine, which I am still trying to deconstruct in my head. It was truly spectacular. 

Following this was the current Magic Circle ‘Stage Magician of the year’, John Archer who’s magic was perfectly intertwined with on the edge comedy. His act began with a young couple selected from the audience blindfolding the magician with coins, a blindfold and secured with duct tape; from where he proceeded to correctly describe three pictures drawn by random members of the audience. He is gifted with being a naturally funny person and had the crowd laughing throughout. 

A sock was sawn in half

The ‘Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre’ where up next and already winners of the 2009 Edinburgh Festival Insider Comedy Award, they showed everyone what they were all about. They executed a show that literally ‘blew my socks off’. It included funny songs to their own take traditional acts like cutting a ‘lady (sock) in half’. A comical performance that had the whole crowd in stitches, and a great act to throw in amongst the other illusionists. 

 ‘The Great Nardini’, was up next and simply incredible. You could see how he travels the world with this performance. When the audience was anticipating the appearance of a dove from his white gloves, he gestured a flying motion with his hands, but what resulted was a flutter of feathers and a worried look on the magicians face. This was one of the many classic tricks that were delivered with a twist. And the theme continued throughout, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats and wanting more. The entire performance had been written very well, and even kept us magicians guessing at what was coming next! 

The 20-minute interval was welcomed, and gave everyone the chance to chat about the marvels that they had just witnessed in the first half. 

The second half opened with Alan Hudson, performing a mind reading trick, correctly guessing the order in which a chosen spectator would burst five coloured balloons – but to make it harder both he and the volunteer were both blindfolded. The audience responded with a welcome series of oohs and aahs, especially when the spectator almost missed a balloon and the sharp needle was almost implanted in the magician’s hand! Alan went on to demonstrate his skill by performing a manipulation of thimbles that was very entertaining and something I had never seen before on a stage. 

The professional performance was another great success of the evening, 

Colin McLeod

The next performer didn’t need an introduction. He has been named as the new Derren Brown – and with a stunning mind-reading performance, Colin McLeod didn’t disappoint. As you might imagine, he involved many audience members and really brought the audience together. And even when everyone had thought it had all gone wrong, Colin surprised all by slowly undoing the buttons on his shirt to reveal the symbol of the chosen spectators superhero. The crowd erupted into huge applause. 

The finale of the Gala show was conducted by Keelan Leyser and Charlotte Marie, who are undoubtedly the best ‘quick change’ artists currently performing in the world today. With some delightful dance moves and full costume changes executed in seconds, the pair dazzled the astonished audience. The performance was full of energy and had everyone clapping along with the musical backing. 

And with that, the first ever Edinburgh Magic Festival drew to a close. The five-day festival has been a great success. Tremendous Edinburgh venues housed world class magical talent entertained fellow magicians and ‘mere mortals’ alike. And I am sure that the spectacle will flourish and can only grow in this magical city for many years to come.

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