MagicFest Gala

Jul 8 2016 | By More

★★★★☆   Classy entertainment

Festival Theatre: Friday 8 July 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

Varied, impressive and thoroughly entertaining, this year’s MagicFest Closing Gala was another crowd-pleaser.

There was a definite Korean bias to proceedings, with three performers who will be returning in August to the Fringe in a show called Snap!. Based on this showing, it should be well worth a look.

Jeton, who appeared at the MagicFest Gala. Image: MagicFest

Jeton, who appeared at the MagicFest Gala. Image: MagicFest

The first of these is The Dreamer: Ted Kim’s intriguing blend of mime, sleight of hand and projections which is surprisingly sophisticated and effective, with a persona reminiscent of a silent movie clown. There is something genuinely touching about his performance that makes it stand out even in such distinguished company.

Hun Lee draws more attention to his own use of technology, billing himself as the Digital Time Traveller. Nothing dates an act as much as ‘modern’ tech, and in truth there is little ‘digital’ about his performance, apart from allowing him to use the old ‘run the film backwards’ shtick. What he does display is an enviable degree of control in appearing and manipulating cards.

There is an even greater degree of control from the third Korean, Pure Alchemist Young Min Kim, whose ability to seemingly make sand, glitter and even metal appear from thin air is baffling. He is the nearest here to a Vegas-style showman, but in small doses this enhances the act.

purity and theatricality

Young Min Kim is more than matched by current ‘Grand Prix World Champion’, Spaniard Hector Mancha, who followed an aggressive, unannounced first half appearance with a more traditional act as the show’s climax. Alone on the stage (and with noticeably very short sleeves) there is simply nowhere for the stream of cards to appear from. Yet appear they do. There is also a purity and theatricality to his act that makes it extremely attractive.

Hun Lee of Snap!. Image: MagicFest

Hun Lee of Snap!. Image: MagicFest

Miss Polly Hoops’s ring-twirling act is more circus-tinged, rather than being what most would recognise as magic, but is none the worse for that. There also is a real theatricality to her performance, and she knows the value of not making everything look too easy.

This could also be said for Jeton, the 1920s-themed ‘gentleman juggler,’ whose juggling and balancing are a joy to behold. Perhaps he should take a leaf out of the other performers’ book and not talk. It may have lost a little in translation from German, but his lame humour and dated patter detract from what is a top-class act – to say nothing of his failure to grasp what language might be appropriate for a show billed as suitable for age 5 and up.

Compere Chris Henry has a better handle on this; he may not always seem comfortable adapting his act for children, but understands the value of a good fart joke, is not afraid of making himself look ridiculous and can fill in when acts are not quite ready.

genuinely eerie

There is a similar sense of the ridiculous in ‘forensic mind reader’ Colin Cloud, combined with the genuinely eerie feeling engendered by some of his mentalism. However he does it, his mind-reading is decidedly impressive, and he has quickly moved from being ‘that Scottish guy who is a bit like Derren Brown’ to a thoroughly impressive act in his own right.

Colin Cloud's mind-reading is "genuinely eerie". Image: MagicFest

Colin Cloud’s mind-reading is “genuinely eerie”. Image: MagicFest

Like all of the others, he also benefits from being in a show like this. If there was perhaps a shortage of genuinely jaw-dropping thrills, there was no lack of talent and skill; real variety and thought in the programming meant there was something to appeal to everyone. This variety sometimes comes at the expense of cohesion, but this is a price worth paying for such an entertaining show.

Running time 2 hours (including one interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Friday 8 July 2016
Matinee 2.30pm, Evening: 7.30pm. Run ended.

Snap! will be at the George Square Theatre, August 4-29 2016: Tickets and details:
Snap! on facebook: showsnap

Colin Cloud’s Expose will be at the Underbelly, August 3-28 2016: Tickets and details:


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