The Magicians 29th January
Well the last show in the series…
On the one hand it is such a shame that we’re not going to have prime-time magic on the TV. Despite my recent moans and gripes about the shows format, it has at least created some debate and moments of magical talk amongst the general public and anything that raises the profile of magic has to be good news for all of us.
Looking back at my own commentary on the series I do recognise that I’ve been reviewing the shows with the ‘eyes of a magician’ and as such have been forced to comment upon the format, delivery and ‘frame’ within the magic has been offered.
Take tonights show as an example…
Potentially stong, emotional and dynamic magic. Putting aside the continued ‘lame’ involvement and comments from the celebrities, some of the magic was very very effective from the point of view of the public.
For me, however, some of the effects were clouded by the desire to want to make them more ‘appealing’.
Take the “Water Torture” effect. What value or mystery was added by linking it to a card trick?
To drama of the ‘escape’ was really lost by the need for the “Ta-daaa” ending of finding a previously signed card.
Cluttering a major effect with other ‘little effects diminishes both. This is not my thinking but me simply restating what the masters have always taught – Dai Vernon, Pat Page, Eugene Burger, Max Maven, Michael Ammar to name a few have all written about the need to make the magical climax as clear and uncluttered as possible.
The “Water Torture Cell” is about the ‘impossibility’ or ‘difficulty’ of the ‘escape’. It is dramatic, tense and attention grabbing in and of itself. When Penn and Teller ‘played’ with the water torture their solution was to ‘forgo’ the escape and make the discovery of the card the focus. The image of Tellers ‘lifeless’ body floating in the tank with the spectator signed card in his goggles was beautifully macabre BUT maintained the focus of one clear climax.
For me the real issue with this show has to be the ‘training of the celebrities’ to do apparently do what it takes magicians years to learn.
Take the ‘escape’ from the ‘table of death’ performed by celebrity Graham Lamb.
The audience know there must be a trick to it, even when it is performed by a ‘trained magician’ BUT by promoting the fact that it is a trick through the use of a celebrity who has had a few hours training simpy reinforces how ‘simple’ it must be. Do we, as magicians, really want our art ‘sold’ as something that can be ‘mastered’ so quickly.
The whole thing is made worse when the shows host introduces a ‘classic of magic’ as being…..
“The legendary levitation TRICK!!!”
Do we really want to remind the audience that what they are seeing is a puzzle to be solved?
As for the other effects…
Nice to see some neat slieght of hand from Chris Korn in the Street Magic section. The folks in the Bingo parlour seemed impressed… AND the ‘head dropper’ performed by Lois de Matos in Covent Garden looked great!
Barry and Stuarts comic take on the Spirit Cabinet was OK, I liked the build up, but in all honesty the real drama of that routine comes from playing it fairly straight. The humour comes from the situation and maybe not from comic lines. The Falkenstien and Willard presentation of this effect ticks all of the ‘light entertainment’ boxes for this potentially dark routine.
Ah well – Saturday night magic, I will miss it.