A mild-mannered man walks on stage…
So begins Arches’ extraordinary and genre-defying Bullet Catch at the Traverse. What starts off as a seemingly simple recount of one of magic’s most dangerous tricks soon turns into a deeply moving and emotional examination of the human condition, with a unique bond being created not only between performer Rob Drummond and his carefully-selected onstage volunteer, but with the whole audience.
In 1912, magician William Henderson was killed in front of an audience of 2,000 in London by an innocent member of the audience, who fired a gun which the illusionist failed to catch between his teeth. At the height of existentialist nihilism, an inquest sought to uncover whether the incident was a tragic accident, or something more.
Drummond is remarkable. Part Henderson, part everyman, part himself: he weaves a spell over the sell-out crowd at the Traverse as he delves into the fascinating story himself, peppering the narrative with a series of well-executed illusions. The audience member selected not only becomes magician’s assistant, but takes on the mantle of Henderson’s unwitting and unwilling killer, through reading a series of letters the unfortunate soul wrote at the time.
Then, as Drummond and his volunteer talk and their bond tightens, we realise this is all a prelude to the innovative and magically-staged production’s final act.
Bullet Catch is a richly rewarding and complex piece with effective technical design which conjures up the right mood at just the right moments.
And it delivers a moving and uplifting message more powerfully than any bullet.
Bullet Catch runs at The Traverse until 26 August. The run is sold out, but returns may be available from the venue.