Let’s just get this out the way: Colin Cloud’s After Dark is the most powerful, impressive and poignant magic and mentalist show I’ve ever seen.
The most powerful, impressive and poignant magic and mentalist show I’ve ever seen
Now for the review (with no major spoilers)…
As I line up outside the McEwan Hall, the excitement is palpable. The excited chat from the group behind me is wild. The potential of being brought on stage, having embarrassing secrets revealed or potentially being hypnotised seems too much for them. As we enter, we’re given paper fortune tellers and the opportunity to write a secret to put in a locked box on the stage. So far, so nerve-wracking.
The charismatic Colin Cloud strides on stage, his first Edinburgh show in four years, and immediately hangs a prediction envelope high above the audience. The show continues with a wonderfully impressive IMDB-based celebrity routine which gets the whole audience involved and an eerily accurate reverse-hypnosis routine with a pocket-watch and random – random! – numbers on a calculator.
One of Cloud's methods of asking for volunteers was getting a sense of names through letters on the fortune teller. About 45 minutes into After Dark, I heard three words booming over the microphone:
‘Where’s James Macfarlane?’
Yes, I, along with three other people, was chosen to go on stage to help with a razor sharp routine (my 12-year-old self was gleefully excited, whilst my very present 32-year-old self was panicking slightly). Not only did I help with the routine, but Cloud also revealed my cat-related secret. Still no clue how this happened – the box of secrets was locked! And in full view of the audience the entire time!
I don’t think there are enough adjectives and superlatives I can use to describe the power and impact that the final 15 minutes of the show had on me and several other members of the audience. Cloud had promised that he would be revealing ‘his biggest secret yet’ (which I won’t divulge here. I don’t reveal other people’s secrets – who am I? Colin Cloud?) This section is structured to perfection and we as an audience were absolutely hooked. That’s all I can really say without giving anything away.
After Dark is a triumph of the highest order. For the next few nights, Colin Cloud will be the hottest ticket in town. His passion, honesty, vulnerability, showmanship and humour are on full display during this jaw-droppingly clever hour. Oh my goodness, go and see this show - it's a five-star masterpiece.