West End Magic, a monthly fixture at the Leicester Square Theatre, heads north for a limited engagement at The Great Yorkshire Fringe.
His set involves the audience, first to make foodstuffs appear from thin air and then (in one of his signature routines) swallowing Alphabet Spaghetti and string, then pulling the string out of his mouth with a word that had been chosen randomly attached.
Curated by award-wining magician, Oliver Tabor, the show features a smorgasbord of performers showcasing their skills in fifteen minute slots.
Up first today is Tabor himself. He’s an old-school sleight of hand magician with some pretty familiar material. I’ve seen the levitating table a bit too often now, and sadly by another conjuror who didn’t take great care of his props, so revealing how it’s done. Tabor’s equipment is in great condition, but occasionally the misdirection wasn’t quite good enough to stop you spotting him palming props away. He’s silent through this intro routine, underscored by a slightly cheesy soundtrack. The kids in the audience lap it up, but I’m afraid I was rolling my eyes a bit.
The energy jumps significantly with the introduction of the next trickster and also compere for the proceedings, Neil Henry, who enthusiastically bounds on stage. His set involves the audience, first to make foodstuffs appear from thin air and then (in one of his signature routines) swallowing Alphabet Spaghetti and string, then pulling the string out of his mouth with a word that had been chosen randomly attached. It’s a particularly impressive feat, especially as Henry informs us, he’s going to have to swallow a tin of Alphabet Spaghetti every night during the upcoming Edinburgh Fringe. I pity your waistline.
Tabor’s on for the next section and we’re back to no dialog and an underscoring of Hall of The Mountain King. The trick is Haunted Hanky, and whilst more impressive than the floating table, it doesn’t feel like we’re pushing the boundaries of magic here.
The next magician up is Oliver Meech, bringing a bit more science to the genre. Less sleight of hand and more stuff you didn’t realise would happen given certain conditions. A glass of water trick (that I’m pretty sure I saw on QI) and how to pick up a jar full of rice with a stick (that again I’m pretty sure was on one of those science programmes not too long ago). Meech’s big finish is a cute card trick which he performs blindfold while speaking cod French. Actually, I seem to remember being the stooge in that trick at a Just The Tonic press launch a few years back; but that’s another story. The camp theatrics are fun, and Meech’s geeky approach make it work even if the conclusion of the trick is pretty obvious early on.
Neil Henry returns to the stage for a big set piece. Mind reading multiple members of the audience, all picked at random and ages ranging from the very young indeed to the – ahem – more mature. Given the conditions, it’s the one part of the show that I genuinely have no clue how he pulled it off. It’s the coup de théâtre that the afternoon was waiting for.
For the finale of the show, Tabor is back, but this time he’s found his voice. And as if it is contractually obligatory to pull a dove out in a magic show, Tabor does just that. Fin.