Knowledge = Belief and Truth. This is the backdrop to the performance, as we enter the room to an Edwardian showman - David Aula – standing on a grand piano. With a brooding sense of anticipation, Simon Evans reassures us that "it’s going to be okay", and with that we are catapulted into the story of the greatest magic trick ever performed. The theatrical fourth wall is steadily penetrated, with a persistent audience interaction that serves not only to diversify the range of cast available, but also to envelope the audience in this oft eerie narration.
A masterclass in deflection and audience participation, storytelling and performance.
We are advised early on that it is a show about magic, not a magic show. Indeed, this is a play about the greatest magic trick ever performed by Hugo Cedar, an Edwardian magician who literally made himself disappear. Or did he …? Whilst engaging in a time-travelling journey into what led up to Cedar’s ultimate illusion, we are treated to seamlessly-performed tricks galore, slapstick comedy and a perfect partnership between Aula and Evans which constantly fooled and delighted. A fascinating element to the performance is that the audience are openly manipulated throughout, participating in (what appeared to be) standard magic tricks whilst commanded to repeat specific lines, and for one audience member being led to choose to leave the room. This was all part of our journey to solve the magic trick, and the audience was only too happy to comply. As we reached the end of the performance, we suddenly realised the poignancy of this component and the duplicitously malleable power of the mind.
This was a masterclass in deflection and audience participation, storytelling and performance. Even with many of the tricks performed then explained, it’s doubtful anyone knew what to expect or left knowing what they had experienced. A deeply heartrending close to the play was in itself wonderfully confusing, delivering a very original concept around a commonplace genre.