More Oasis Than Mirage: Magic And Mind-Reading
Over six months since venues took a collective bow, London theatre is doing an appearing act once more — and so it's only fitting that we check out a magic show smack in the middle of the West End.
Produced by and starring Tony Middleton, aka 'Sonic' — with a guest appearance by Edward Hilsum — Magic And Mind-Reading is a slice of corona cabaret that serves up exactly what it says on the tin. In an ornate and slightly staid hotel environment, the show has, as you'd expect, been updated to meet current health restrictions: masks are mandatory throughout, as is a squirt of sanitiser fluid on entry and before jumping on stage.
The two magicians’ contrasting styles make for interesting viewing. Middleton’s mild-mannered demeanour suggests his nickname's more to do with his spiky hair than his personality. His repertoire of classic parlour tricks and 'mind-reading' (or, more accurately, mentalism) are fun without being particularly flashy; with the sometimes atmosphere-quashing effect of having a socially distanced audience, there's not an abundance of enthusiasm in the room for some of the well-honed but prosaic turns. In contrast, Hilsum is a manic expressive, all eyes and teeth, bouncing around and punching through what is occasionally a flat atmosphere. His modern and funky approach to his craft has won him a number of industry awards, not least the Magic Circle’s Stage Magician of the Year in 2018.
While the show is satisfying fare overall, the execution in parts makes the experience tricky. The kind of close-up magic employed by both performances loses some of its punch in this relatively detached environment; trying to look at small coins, notches on a match or wedding rings on a pencil from over two metres away would trouble even those with perfect vision.
But in this arid desert that is the current London arts scene, this show (despite its illusory nature) is more oasis than mirage and definitely worth a gander for those missing live thrills.
Magic And Mind-Reading continues at Le Meridien until 28 November.
Last Updated 05 October 2020