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  • Chris O'Rourke

Magic Play


Liam Wilson Smyth in Magic Play.Image by Futoshi Sakauchi

*****

Do you believe in magic? Mysterious, unexplainable, irrational magic? Magician Alistair Casper doesn’t. He wants to, but he knows it’s all tricks of the trade in a trade that’s all about tricks. All set up, subtle hypnosis and suggestion. With nothing magical in disappearing hankies, vanishing balls or reading minds. Nothing mysterious about mentalism, materialising coins, or talking to the dead. It’s a lie everyone wants to believe because we really want to believe in magic. To create an imagined reality by suspending disbelief. Trusting our hopes, dreams and ideals over our experience. Like his ex-girlfriend Clare who thinks there’s more to the stories we tell ourselves than just lies. In Liam Wilson Smyth’s Magic Play, from a story by director Paul Meade, what lies beneath the obvious proves infinitely intriguing. Enriching what you see at every turn. Funny, heartfelt, thought provoking, and featuring some cracking close-up magic, Magic Play is exactly that. A play of such magical charm it's imposible to resist.


The set up is succinctly complex. Casper, about to perform his last trick and win back the girl he loves, lets the audience in on all his secrets. About his tricks, his stalking, his father’s death, his beginnings as a magician, and the toothless pensioner he once kissed. Having realised mystery is nothing more than the best gimmick you can afford, Casper is unable to believe in magic. Yet caught in the tragic pull of love, Casper is as susceptible to irrational belief as any in his audience. For them it might be disappearing coins, for him it’s a disappeared girlfriend. One he’s convinced he can magic into loving him again. Steeped in subtextual, philosophical questioning, and a ruse of such elaborate absurdity it’s mind bogglingly hilarious, what unfolds is a genuine delight. Ensuring this loveable stalker is impossible not to like. Doesn’t matter that if you look close you’ll see cracks in the philosophical arguments. They’re there to promote conversation on the nature of what’s real and what we add to reality to fashion our own realities rather than offering conclusive proofs.

Liam Wilson Smyth in Magic Play.Image by Futoshi Sakauchi


Like all great magic acts, the best work is not always seen. Such as the invisible voices of Molly Downey, Enda Kilroy and a hilarious Samuel Coyle as accomplice Mick. But the show belongs to Wilson Smyth who has the audience eating out of Casper’s pathetic, if rather skilful hands. Making endearing this almost-ran magician with a trim beard, tight waistcoat and purple cravat, topped off by a tied up ponytail aspiring to be a man bun. Suggesting Clare might well have had other reasons for leaving Alastair besides his belief that candles were nothing more than fire hazards. Meade’s meticulous direction doing a marvellous job of bringing it all together, with Colm Maher’s lights offering able assistance.

Do you believe in magic? Doesn’t matter a bit. Magic Play will leave you convinced of the magic of theatre. Gúna Nua Theatre Company, celebrating twenty five years with this gorgeously realised work. A perfect warm up for The Fringe. Fresh, original, and brilliantly executed, hell, The Fringe might find itself hard pressed to find something to equal it. A thoroughly enjoyable production whose simplicity belies a richness of depth. Not to be missed for any reason. But book now. Magic Play is sure to be a sell out. Marking another splendid feather in Bewley’s Café Theatre's impeccable theatrical cap.

Magic Play, written and performed by Liam Wilson Smyth, from a story by Paul Meade, presented by Gúna Nua Theatre Company and Bewley’s Café Theatre, runs at Bewley’s Café Theatre until September 9th.


For more information, visit Bewley’s Café Theatre.

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