Sunday, July 22, 2012

Peeking into the box of tricks - review of Barry & Stuart : Show & Tell

Newbury Comedy Festival: Barry & Stuart - Show & Tell, at The Corn Exchange on Friday, July 6, 2012
SHORTLY after returning home from Barry & Stuart kicking off the Newbury Comedy Festival with their magic show at The Corn Exchange on Friday, I received a message from local magician Robert Bone, saying “Now you know how to do it all, I guess I’ll have some competition...”

In fact, the Scottish duo’s inspired schtick of revealing the secrets behind their trickery in the second half of the show gave me an increased respect for magicians’ mastery. Far from it all being about sleight of hand and quick wins, the amount of thought, time, inspiration and sheer effort which goes into the creation and perfection of each trick puts it even further out of the reach of us Muggles, and brings in an extra element of wonder and amazement.

Marginally less gory than some of Barry Jones & Stuart MacLeod’s previous shows (there was still a fair amount of fake blood being thrown around, though), the emphasis was firmly on demonstrating - and then revealing the secrets behind - some of the pair’s most ingenious tricks, one of which had taken them six years to prepare for performance. So it was less about the smoke and mirrors, and more about secreted technology, clever use of chemistry, magnificent memory techniques, and an au faitness with the workings of social media.

The explanations didn’t reduce the tricks themselves to a let-down, as there were none that I for one could have second-guessed (I’m sure that Robert Bone could have a good go, but I’m looking forward to testing him on that). OK, there was one exception - a feat of memory by Jones had a perfectly reasonable explanation (he used the devastating power of... his brain), but was no less impressive for it.

The “reveals” also showed how well Jones and MacLeod work as a double act; while Jones’ particular strength is his memory feat, MacLeod’s is his nimble finger work, making short shrift of any sleight of hand required. It makes for an excellent, fun and very entertaining pairing, and despite their statement at the beginning of the show that “tonight, we are going to be ending our careers”, I doubt  that will be happening for many years to come.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, July 12, 2012

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