Venue: York Theatre Royal
Date: 19th of October
Starring: Edward Hilsum, Alex The Mind Reader, Fay Presto and John Archer
Rating: 3 stars
As part of the ‘TakeOver Festival 2013’, ‘Champions of Magic’ is a brand-new show comprising 5 performances, 4 magicians, 5 doves, bawdy humour, Hawaiian shirts, numerous coins, multi-coloured scarves and about 10 bewildered audience volunteers. Magic can be considered like marmite; you either love it or hate it – this muddle of a show managing to inspire both emotions.
The song ‘Time Cannot Erase’ accompanied a silver coin trick with brilliant synchronicity. The dated music, however, which dominated the first act with ‘Is She Really Love’, and the horrendous juxtaposition of classical and electro music, impeded the magic’s gripping suspense. It also proved to be an irritatingly loud distraction.
A projected screen hanging from centre of the stage provided close-ups on tricks, and announced the start of each act. Edward Hilsum was the first magician to take to the stage. A small man with lightning-quick fingers, a navy blue suit, flamingo pink scarves, 5 doves, 1 rose, and a fantastically mischievous smile which would have made the Cheshire Cat jealous; he truly encompassed the enigma of a traditional magician. By starting the night he eased us into the world of magic with the well-known acts of his craft – his character shining through his gesticulation. Hilsum is considered one of the UK’s fastest rising young magicians, and it was good to see that the old methods still have their charm.
The diversity of jokes and magic encompassed in the 2 hours was exceptional. The next act was Alex The Mind Reader. Though he was impressive and entertaining, it was all a matter of volunteers writing down answers which he then pocketed. Now I don’t know how he did it, but it seemed a rather ‘one-trick pony’ spectacle. The comedic element really added another dimension though, despite a few slips, for instance, calling someone tone-deaf when they can play the piano – his ability proving somewhat questionable.
During the interval the music started to improve to my relief, the song ‘Jump’ envisioning for me Hugh Grant in ‘Love Actually’. A lady who looked like the Pearly Queen circulated in the audience doing magic tricks, which involved free chocolates – her name Fay Presto. She has performed for many members of the royal family, and when she took to the stage she certainly proved a royal gem.
From now on the old devils took to the stage, oozing with vulgar humour, fantastic audience interaction, and executing impressive magic. Her performance included pouring water into a folded newspaper, tearing it up into small pieces, and then unfolding the paper to reveal it intact, dripping the water out into a cup.
John Archer was the last act, and was one to remember with his Hawaiian shirt, entering like a jumping penguin and playing the ukulele. He also managed to swallow a 20-inch long blown up balloon! His humour fantastically English, and he had his own lyrics to sing, for instance ‘I put my father in a liquidiser….and now I’m drinking pop’.
Overall, the show was a fantastic medley of magic, with moments of brilliance and dissatisfaction. I left the theatre with a smile on my face, my laughing having given me an abdominal workout, and tricks that have left me thinking. Consequently, it was a worthwhile show, with room for improvement in its early stages of development.