Revolution in the Magic Square

Ian Saville has just become the President of the Magic Square; his election is a surprise, and proves divisive to every faction of the magic society. As a socialist magician, he believes that he can inspire the masses, yet he is beset by rebellious members in his own ranks. Moreover, his half-hearted support for the International Guild of Magicians – which the Magic Square has opted to leave after a referendum, has left him with virtually no allies, and enemies both left and right.

The conceit of Corbyn as a socialist magician is clever, yet the novelty wears out once the audience realises what Ian is trying to do.

The association with the plight of Jeremy Corbyn is immediately obvious. The entire act then consists of Ian (acting his fictional self) navigating his way through the divisions within the Magic Square (Labour), just as he has to combat the Supernaturalists (Conservatives) both within and without. Throughout the act, Ian is consistently self-deprecatory, smarts a white beard, and is even memorably dressed like Corbyn himself. With his tremendous skills in ventriloquism, Ian proceeds to have his character sustain a dialogue with Karl Marx (his only trusted advisor in his cabinet), and with the aid of dummies and hats, gathers a conference of personalities representing the labour left and right in discord with one another.

The conceit of Corbyn as a socialist magician is clever, yet the novelty wears out once the audience realises what Ian is trying to do. From then on, the show becomes entirely predictable as events are unfolded in accordance to what we already know about recent political events: a Welsh challenger to Ian’s presidency and whether he gets automatically placed on the ballot box for the presidency of the Magic Square, etc. This stubborn fidelity to the character of the socialist magician is not helped by the fact that the magic tricks that he performs are poor. Even if the intention might well have been to reflect the ineptitude of Corbyn’s leadership, the conceit is too overcooked at this point to provide humour for the satire. His eccentric ventriloquism of various political characters in the latter stages of the show merely reads like a smokescreen to vacuity – an unfortunate take off from the current malaise in British politics perhaps, which arguably has more comedy in itself.

A warning: Revolution in the Magic Square is not for you if you don’t follow politics closely. This is a show for the theatre elites who could brag about having watched a seriously quirky political comedy. It might be intended this way, perhaps. Either way, it does leave the impression of having spent a good hour being told what you already know.

Reviews by Timothy Leonine Tsang

Zoo

Child’s Play

★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Deadline

★★★★
Pleasance Dome

Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show

★★★★
SpaceTriplex

A Working Title

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A show with magic. Chance has unexpectedly propelled veteran socialist magician, Ian Saville, to the leadership of the Magic Square. Will he be up to the challenge? Can socialist magic inspire a mass audience, or will it always be just a protest movement? Will Saville have to compromise his principles to get moderate magicians on board? Will the plots to get rid of him succeed? How will it all end? Reviews of Ian Saville's previous magic shows: ‘Totally bonkers’ (Sun). ‘Magnificently bonkers’ (Independent). ‘Gloriously witty and consummately theatrical’ (Time Out). ‘Highly recommendable’ (BroadwayBaby.com).