Four times Scottish champion of close up magic Michael Neto is an assured and amiable stage magician, whose slight of hand is smooth, assured and doubtless the result of decades of practice. He is not, however, quite so assured an actor, which is a shame; for this is an otherwise perfectly judged balance of spoken word and stage magic.
Neto is Alan Sparks, who briefly found fame as one of "The Impossible Five” magicians ‘super group’ but, following an accident on stage, was forced to start his career again from scratch
Neto is Alan Sparks, who briefly found fame as one of "The Impossible Five” magicians ‘super group’ but, following an accident on stage, was forced to start his career again from scratch, performing close-up magic on street corners and at the kind of birthday parties where he faced the “entitlement, poor manners, snotty noses and sticky hands” of an “artillery of children”. While protesting that he's not a dancing monkey, Sparks at least accepts that he's still doing what he loves most in the world.
Well, except for Emily, who he met on a Glasgow street one day when a trick went slightly wrong, and who had since supported him through good shows and bad. But, as he admits, no relationship is simple, and it becomes clear that his constant desire to impress her with better and more amazing tricks doesn't lead to the result he was hoping for.
As a mixture of theatrical storytelling and stage magic, Tragic Magic is fairly simple in its form; Alan Sparks, somewhat nervously, addresses the audience directly while either demonstrating tricks or using them to underscore a narrative point (and, at one point, playing on an audience's uncertainty about whether to applaud or not after a trick). For the most part this works very well, but–at least on the opening night–there was a sense of the words being consciously remembered and performed by Michael Neto rather than just spoken by Alan Sparks.
With any luck, though, Neto will relax into the role; in any case, there's absolutely no doubt that his execution of the stage magic is exemplary–and worth the admission price alone.