Review: Parallel Realities, The Edinburgh International Magic Festival, The Scottish Storytelling Centre

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A WHOOSH of crisp cool air rushes up out of the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s theatre, filling the stairwell as if in greeting.

Hot parents and boiling, wriggly children fill the little auditorium to capacity, recovering from the wilting heat outside and preparing to be amazed and bedazzled by a range of stupefying stunts.

The solution to their befuddlement is easy, however. There are a team of tiny Oompa Loompa-like minions that have been shrunk by a ray gun and are dressed in camouflage. These minuscule mystical minions then attach themselves to the magicians’ clothes and help them perform their tricks. Ok, so that could be a bit far-fetched, but then, this is Parallel Realities, a performance by three Classic Stage Magic masters where anything could happen and explanations aren’t always easy to come by.

Frenchman Xavier Mortimer’s Thing-like disembodied hand trick could only be done with the aid of an invisibility cloak and Dion’s swift sleight of hand must have been achieved by Harry Potter-like apparating.

Compere for the hour-long show and festival artistic director Kevin McMahon is no slouch himself, picking on the front row to help him out with some close-up magic between acts. His super-cool trick with a mobile phone will have amateur magicians playing copycat by nightfall.

Completing the trio of stage magicians is another Frenchman and finalist in France Has Got Talent, Florian Sainvet, whose Tron-inspired set blends traditional sleight of hand with booming dance music and bright neon stripes. It’s a confident and appealing departure from the penguin-suited magic so prevalent in the UK.

Mortimer’s charming and engaging act is infused with a classic sense of mime and clowning. The whole family will be delighted by his antics and trickery.

Dion’s slick set is reminiscent of 1920s Paris, dressed to the nines complete with a cane and scarf. His set highlights the incredible work that must have gone into learning how to manipulate playing cards. Don’t sit too close to the stage, though, you may just catch a glimpse of a tiny, tiny minion helping out, and that would just ruin the magic, wouldn’t it?

n Run ends Friday