Edinburgh Magic

Jun 2 2023 | By More

★★★★☆     Rosy

Caledonian Hotel: Saturdays to July 8 2023.
Review by Thom Dibdin

Close up and intimate, Kevin Quantum’s latest show, Edinburgh Magic, makes best use of the Versailles Suite of the Caledonian Hotel – or Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh as we are now supposed to call it.

Quantum found TV fame with his flaming cannonballs act on Britain’s Got Talent, which he also took to the German version of the show. Here, he goes right back to the basic minutiae of the magician’s arts with sleight of hand and a spot of neat levitation with which he once baffled JK Rowling.

Kevin Quantum in the Versailles Suite. Pic: Thom Dibdin

The Versailles Suite is an astute venue to choose. Hand-painted, neoclassical murals give it an aura of exclusivity and add depth – and a reason – behind the atmospheric lighting. With just 30 seats, everyone gets a good view, especially when Quantum brings his tricks into the audience.

The illusions are simple in concept, the most showy is Quantum’s neat opening gambit of producing a rose from a burning paper twist. There’s drawing pennies from the air, transporting a banknote, hiding a ball under a cup and forcing cards from a pack – but it is in their performance that he excels.

There’s just the right level of intimacy in his presentation to make it feel special; building up a rapport with the individual audience members he gets to help him, but never quite so slick that it feels easy or offhand.

The illusions themselves are held together by a narrative that is vaguely association with both Edinburgh and famous people who have stayed in the Caledonian hotel, as well as drawing in a couple of hang-overs from his The Trick that Fooled… production of a few years ago.

ball and cup

In all the recent royal pomp of funeral and coronation, it is easy to forget that in the 1970s the then Prince Charles was known as a Goon-loving tree-hugger who, in 1975, was inducted into the Magic Circle: the exclusive club for magicians, who promise never to reveal their illusions.

Quite why Charles was ever a guest at the Caledonian is unclear, given that his late mum had a rather big house just down the road, and it is hard to think that his entry into the Magic Circle was anything but a foregone conclusion. But stay there he did, and Quantum makes very good use of the illusion which gained him entry to the Circle.

It’s a simple one of placing a ball underneath a cup and making it travel through the saucer into the illusionist’s fist. Of course there is miss-direction and more in the technique, which Quantum readily acknowledges, as he happily riffs on the basic illusion and somehow brings fruit into the equation. Many fruit…

It is that ability to riff on an illusion which makes this evening so much fun.

Quantum happily sets up the basic idea while giving it some kind of relevance and building an understanding with his mark, before performing the fundamental version and then repeating it, maybe adding a twist or bringing back a previous illusion or taking it off into a completely unexpected – but somehow suitable – direction.

There is only the faintest hint of a script here, a moment which doesn’t feel quite as spontaneous as the rest of the show. But as he settles back into a final series of illusions that combine the magician’s arts with his first love of science and mathematics, Quantum really comes alight.

This is a clever evening of magic. Well-worked, carefully chosen and nicely appropriate for the time and place in a way which gives each illusion its own story – while allowing Kevin Quantum’s personality to shine through.

Running time: One hour and ten minutes (no interval)
Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, the Caledonian, Princes Street, EH1 2AB.Saturday
Sat 27 May – Sat 8 July 2023
Saturday evenings: 6pm & 8.30pm (Versailles Suite)
Tickets and details: Book here.

Wewbsite: https://edinburghmagic.co.uk/


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