Holy Cow (FringeTIX)
V.I.P. Magic @ Bosco Theatre
11:00pm, Mon 19 Mar 2007
It’s a Monday night, and the Bosco is packed for this magic show by a couple of young lads hailing from Amsterdam. They introduce themselves at the top of the show, and they’ve immediately got the crowd on-side; wonderfully personable, they work the evident enthusiasm perfectly with a bit of carefully stilted banter and a few rousing “Holy Cow!” yells.
We love them already. They’ve established their presence.
Their first trick seemingly comes from nowhere and almost knocks the audience backwards with surprise – bottles of wine appear from burst balloons, from behind handkerchiefs. They roll with the mood and launch into a protracted card trick that lasts – if I were to guess – twenty minutes; but at no time does it feel labored, never does it outstay its welcome, each successive part of the trick more incredulous than the last.
They then attempt to teach us the key to card tricks – watching cards during the shuffle, counting positions in the deck. This seemingly innocuous and humorous aside seemed to add a fantastic level of depth to the performance; for the rest of the show, I was carefully watching their eyes to try and figure out when they were peeking. Of course, this is part of their intent; watching them is an effective misdirection that they exploit later on to incredible effect.
There’s some head-scratching mind-reading and blindfolded antics, a minor lull when there’s a few simple Linked Ring tricks, but the finale was really something special. Another card trick with a theatrical bent, our magicians were plucking aces from a deck in ever more surprising ways. Misdirection was cunningly applied, leaving us dumbfounded to a man, but the final part of trick was so well built up, and the audience’s expectations so brilliantly manipulated, that when the final ace was flipped I thought the Bosco roof was going to be lifted, such was the rapturous explosion of delight.
“Thank you for coming,” they say, “but it’s hard for us to get an audience because no-one here knows us. So please tell your friends, but if you would like, please wait when you leave the theatre and we’ll all yell ‘Holy Cow!’ together outside to let people know about us.”
Everyone flooded outside, and – even though it was half-past-midnight on a Monday night – not a single person left. We all waited in a manically grinning huddle for the V.I.P. Magicians to cue us, and every one of us yelled “HOLY COW!” at the top of our voices, over and over and over. More cheers, more clapping, more slaps on the back, more grinning; everyone participated because they really, really, wanted to.
Because we’d all been privy to one of the most astonishingly gob-smacking displays of magic I’ve ever seen. Despite the ever-so-minor card slips and lulls, Holy Cow was simply stunning.