Could It Be Magic? – Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Written and Performed by Paul Aitchison

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Lights, camera, MAGIC. And well, there’s undoubtedly a fair whack of the latter taking place this evening, and why wouldn’t there be? For tonight, the lucky residents of Edinburgh are here to judge the most prestigious prize within the magical community. So, stuff the Magic Circle, say no to the glitz and glamour of Vegas – here, in an old conference room, we pay tribute to four of the industries most affordable masters of mystery.

Our host for this evening, and also the chair of the board for the competition AND previous winner of the coveted trophy, Red Kettle knows a thing or two about sorcery, and lowkey lawsuits.

And while all of this evening’s contestants may share a distinctive beard, eye colour and, well, height, they couldn’t be more different if they tried and are 100% entirely unique and individual people. From the exotic plains of the U.S to the bright lights of vintage BBC Thames era television, the audience is in for a treat of magical royalty.

A jazzed American who could give Chris Angel a run for his money, a foppish German and a seventies icon, there’s a plethora of favourites to pick. And at first, the character transitions come over as brash, but Aitchinson’s enthusiasm and dedication to each are excessively cartoonish and match the energy of the show marvellously.

With a minimal amount of dead air, there’s never a dull moment, the show crafts the pacing in a way that only has minor blips between sets, usually filled with either a joke, a VT or another narrative device. The video segments can lose a few watchers, but by thunder, they’ll be reeled back in.

The strengths as individuals would work well as solo, but the way Aitchison weaves all of these characters together and still maintains the fervour to perform the following tricks is a voodoo skill in its own right – what’s more, the story beneath the acts is as engaging as the tricks themselves – with a background to each contestant, which enables a sense of individualism to reinterpret each trick. Even the ones audience members know abruptly manifest as something fresh in the hands of Klause or poor, dearly beloved Colin.

There are a few jitters, and whilst they don’t inhibit the magical mystery of the show, they take a knock to the humour – but in embracing the bombastic momentum of the costume changes and multiple role dimensions, there’s plenty of room for forgiveness.

Ranging in techniques, the magic practises range from predictable classics to a certain soupcon of creative new wonders for even veterans of the industry and to have audience participation back is a sight to behold, and tool magicians have struggled without in their arsenal. But it’s up to us to decide who is deserving of the award.

Did we agree with this evenings decision? Nein. But what do we know? In a world of brooding, shadow-clad illusionists and spellbinders, character comedy magic has lost its place in the mainstream industry – the irony being the tremendous success of televised magic. Could It Be Magic? splashes a contemporary sense of comedy with the most ancient entertainment arts, pulling far more than the proverbial rabbit from the Fez.

Could It Be Magic? runs at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre until August 29th. Tickets can be purchased here.

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