It is dangerous ground for a magician to review other magic acts. Which is why I’ve never made a habit of it. To slate bad magic, as a reviewer may sometimes be required to do, can come across arrogant if you’re also a practitioner. At the same time, it is more or less a professional requirement to see as many other magic acts as possible. So it’s probably worth my stating from the outset that I’m only reviewing this one because it was one of the more unusual acts I’ve seen and I liked it. I think.
One of the greatest and most rewarding things about living in London is the city’s thriving theatre scene. There is nowhere else in this country or this United Kingdom where somebody can see so much live theatre on a consistent year-round basis. And it’s Maaya’s love – no, obsession – with theatre that takes the two of us on some rather unlikely adventures to parts of London we most likely wouldn’t visit for any other reason.
Last night was one such night and took us to the High Tide Festival in Walthamstow, where I was treated to one of the most bizarre magic shows I’ve ever seen. Titled ‘The Extinction Event’, I have to say that when Maaya first tried to sell this to me, my expectations where not high. In fact, they were low. It is an odd title. Difficult to know exactly what I’m putting myself in for. And as such, difficult to develop any strong feelings either way. But hey, Maaya was arranging it, so thank God it wasn’t another play about death or honour killings and didn’t run for three and a half hours.
As a nation, even the most disinterested of us has been exposed to a lot of magic over the last twenty years. Which makes it extremely challenging for magicians to keep coming up with new stuff. In my own act, I have so far relied heavily on my life story which is in some ways quite different from most working magicians. And so far, that’s what I’ve relied upon for my unique selling point.
Starring David Aula and Simon Evans, The Extinction Event goes somewhere different. Part play and part magic show, it opens with the premise of a magician trying to accept the death of his best friend, while asking some very challenging questions about the future of humanity in the face of technology.
With music that would sound quite at home in Chistopher Nolan blockbuster, The Extinction Event maintains quite an eerie mood throughout, and builds to a dramatic climax and a character revelation that I have never seen before in a magic show.
A show presented by two magicians rather than just one also creates some very interesting and unusual approaches which, although I’ll never be able to use the techniques myself in the same way, really delighted me.
I have also always had a rule that I do not like magic trick presentations that use lazy old stories about other magicians – typically Houdini – as a story-telling framework and theatrical justification for performing what therefore most be a lazy old trick. In ‘The Extinction Event’ the subject of this is Chung Ling Su. However, this I liked. Because their reason for doing it was not lazy. In fact, it complemented the story-telling perfectly, while also clever leading on to what would become the show’s inevitable and dramatic climax.
Towards the beginning of this article I said I thought I liked it. And the only reason I said ‘I think’ is because the weird feeling it left me with is not one I routinely associate with textbook enjoyment. But when you wake up the next morning thinking about a show, as today, that can only be a good thing. I guess what I’m saying is, if you get a chance, do go and see this. It’s original, dramatic & inventive. Really really fantastic! And a lot better than several magic shows I’ve paid a lot more to see.
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