You probably expect misdirection from magic, but it’s a rare thing for it to move you. This extraordinary offering from Neil Henry ended with such heartfelt sweetness that not even the most begrudging sceptics among the audience – if there were any left by the end of the show – could have come out feeling anything but joy.
Mindsquirm will fill your mind with ‘how the hell did he do that?’ wonderings.
Congratulations to him not only for proposal and engagement (which took place onstage and was crafted from the tricks of the previous hour, beautifully repurposed) but also for crafting a show that’s generous and inclusive to its audience. The hour is an unbreakable bubble of warm humour, filled with moments of wonder – but not the Philomena Cunk kind.
Henry’s magic is consistently impressive, whether he’s pulling words made of swallowed alphabetti spaghetti from his mouth, turning cold coke into hot tea, predicting words and definitions collectively invented by various audience members, or putting some kind of confundus charm on people he’s brought up onstage and making them forget how to read.
Alongside the magic is a brilliant and buoyant persona that is as on our side as we are on his. He only has to say the word and we’ll chivvy anyone brought onstage with copious whoops and applause. Undercutting the warmth is the occasional barbed jibe – ‘the show’s only an hour’, he says cheerily, meaning ‘hurry the hell up’ – but it’s always clear his victims are never at risk of real embarrassment.
In fact, he only sets himself up for embarrassing moments, coaxing us into believing a trick has fallen to pieces, before delivering inexplicable and awe-inspiring final flourishes. And when we get woxaked – it’s gonna be a thing, trust me – he’s always sure to emphasise that we’ve been chosen for participation at random: no one here is collaborating with him.
Mindsquirm will fill your mind with ‘how the hell did he do that?’ wonderings. If that’s your bag, wonder away – but trust me, it’s far more fun to just sit there in dumbstruck appreciation.