Having never been to a magic show before, I arrived at the venue feeling genuinely curious but also highly dubious. Despite my ill-informed scepticism, magician Josh Staley’s masterful use of comedy, illusion and suspense created a moment in time that was funny, engaging and genuinely amazing.
The ‘secret room’ at the Circus Oz headquarters made for an intimate setting; the magic more impressive due to its proximity. Unlike a comedy show, where only those brave enough to sit in the front row risk becoming part of the performance, most of the audience members were active participants in the magic. It was this interactive, immersive aspect of Staley’s performance that was one of the great highlights of the night. Before even entering the venue, audience members were asked to shuffle decks of cards which were used throughout the performance and in the lead-up to a particularly dramatic grand finale. Unexplained brown parcels, bells and random assortments of fruit could be found under many of the seats, creating a sense of intrigue and excitement as the audience settled in for an hour of magic.
Though there many different tricks involving decks of cards, Rubik’s cubes and an alarming number of bananas, a coherent narrative was maintained throughout. As the title of the show would suggest, Staley focused on creating moments in time, moments of magic the audience would not forget. According to Staley, there are two important parts to every magic trick. The first is the journey of the magic trick itself, and the second is the story telling after the conclusion of the show. This particularly resonated with me after I found myself spending lengthy amounts of time trying (and failing) to describe and re-enact some of the most memorable tricks to friends and colleagues.
After much agonising debate, I still cannot logically explain the magic Staley performed. Although this could be due to my lack of experience or imagination, I think it is more likely a reflection of Staley’s technical skills in creating illusion and building a sense of intrigue. Cards disappeared from one spot and were found in another, a $10 bill was marked with someone’s name and then found in the middle of a lemon, a Rubik’s cube was solved without anyone touching it and decks of cards were manipulated in all kinds of interesting and surprising ways. Most of the magic was so intricate that it defies any kind of coherent description, and runs the risk of sounding bizarre or impossible.
Initially, I was convinced that audience members had to be part of the magic act, that the tricks were impossible unless people were secretly part of the performance. However, if that was the case, there would only be a handful of legitimate audience members. I was captivated by Stanley’s magic from start to finish. Any kind of description of the show will not do justice to the quality of the performance and the incredible atmosphere it generated. Don’t take my word for it, see it for yourself.
Moments in Time is on at the Secret Room from 10 – 14 July 2018. Tickets are available via eventfinda.