I can’t believe just how quickly time is passing – another cluster of months have gone by and my words have been few and far between on this site.
On the plus side my absence as been because of work and not because of anything else…
I’m writing now because I wanted to offer a review of a magic show I saw last night…
DEVIOUS MINDS at Wadebridge Town Hall, Cornwall 21st October
The show features Tim Shoesmith and Dean Maudsley and I first became aware of the show when I was booking my new show (It’s All In The Mind) at the Acorn in Penzance and was told that there was a ‘similar show’ booked the week before I had intended to play the venue. So my first step was to change my dates but my next was to ensure that I saw this show.
Now before I begin, we have to admit that financially it’s tough to get audiences at the moment and, in Cornwall, there are other mitigating circumstances which mean that small venues are finding it hard to keep going. Even well promoted and free shows in Penzance find it difficult to attract people away from their televisions or late-night-out for a few drinks. I had hoped to see the guys at The Acorn in Penzance on Thursday – but it was not well supported and so cancelled (in the same way I have had to cancel another (non-magic) show there this week. So I traveled to Wadebridge to see this show and I am so glad I did…. and I can honestly say Penzance missed out on a treat.
So the show…
It’s definitely a show of two halves which offer ‘devious distractions’ for all.
Tim Shoesmith presents some of the classic routines of magic, which included a rope routine that was playful, magical and engaging; a version of ‘the electric chairs’ masterfully handled along with a borrowed note routine and pickpocket sequence which brought his section of the show to a close. Audience participation was gently encouraged, a “mind reading” routine which Tim included was fun enough to suggest the mentalism which was to follow in the second half, but did not detract from it nor was it a simple filler since it had a charm and delight all of its own.
I really enjoyed Tim’s stage presence. He was friendly and extremely like-able. Within the first few minutes of his act he managed to capture and hold the audience and gain one of the most precious things a performer can be given – their trust. By the end of his act I had the feeling that the audience would trust this guy totally and completely.
Tim’s professional experience and understanding of magic as a performance art shines through in the structuring of his show.
One of Tim’s effects that I thought was a bit underplayed was his final thing with a kid and a glass of milk.
It was a quirky piece which works brilliantly because of Tim’s ability to react to an audience members interaction. I’m not sure if the subtle underplay was a deliberate thing or just seemed that way to me – but it took me back to some of those great routines performed with young people by today’s magicians like Lane Burton and David Copperfield who ‘interpreted’ what I know as Devants ‘egg trick’.
It, for me, is that category of gentle fun and perhaps could be a bigger feature in Tim’s act and in its quality is a hallmark of the playfulness which permeated his show.
The second half of the show featured Dean Maudsley who from the outset makes it clear that he is a con-man and cannot read minds …. but then commences to do so.
As a mentalist I am extremely interested in how a performer within this genre opens their show.
I loved Deans entrance and posturing which set’s up the initial feeling that this guy is going to be intimidating and then immediately eases that tension with his tight and quick paced introduction.
Like Tim before him he gains the audiences trust very quickly (perhaps more important for a Mentalist than a Magician – i.e. in terms of the speed of trust building?).
One of the problems faced by mentalists is that of giving the audience a sense of involvement.
For a magician the nature of the effects and the processes involved can be shared to a certain extent with an entire audience. They can watch the card being selected; see that it is returned to the deck and then appear in an impossible location.
In mentalism the effect is often that a spectator thinks or does something and the result of the though or action is ‘known’. It can be a simple one-on-one transaction which could exclude the rest of the audience.
Dean creates a shared experience with the audience and maintains a pleasant tension by ensuring that everyone feels ‘they could be next’.
I really enjoyed the act – Deans chair routine and ‘ending’ is superb!
In some of the smaller set pieces we hear about Deans fascination with an ‘old trick’ which led him to create the ‘effect he would want to be remembered for’ – some great emotional hooks here and all delivered with a relaxed confidence. Like some of the really super mentalists around today he really does challenge the idea ‘mentalism is boring’ by being sharp, witty, provocative and totally engaging.
Deans show, within the show which is Devious Minds, increases in pace and tempo as the climax is reached and I could feel the surprise and collective whispers of ‘how, what, no!” in the audience.
As a show I would recommend Devious Minds as great family entertainment; a demonstration of commerical magic and mentalism and, for the performer, a good lesson in audience management and engagement.
You can find out more about the show and find out where and when you can see them here DEVIOUS MINDS – THE SHOW