Some people here have expressed curiousity about the David Ben show "The Conjurer"
I have not yet seen the show but today in the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper there is a review which takes up quite a considerable amount of space.
It is a mixed review(mostly lukewarm at best) and I never go 100% by what I read in the paper. However, it is always good to get the perspective of a non magician, albeit a theatre critic.
The review is so long that I will only have the space here to post a few relevant extracts. Under a photo of David there is a heading "David Ben proves to be a wonderful magician: unfortunately, he's not much of an actor."
The review says in part " He is also a historian of his own craft. What he isn't is much of an actor. This deficiency matters.
The quasi-historical framework has earned the show a past gig at the Shaw Festival, but it hangs heavy on the evening as entertainment.
The visual fustiness, which extends to the use as an assistant of a pigtailed junior mandarin, is obviously intentional. Less so, perhaps, is the irritating coyness of the Conjurer's patter.
Ben does not have the panache that might turn this laborious stuff into humour; he just sloughs it off, leaving it stranded somewhere between old fashioned formality and contemporary casualness.
All magicians need patter- partly to distract our attention and partly to hold it. Nothing could be more monotonous than simply being dazzled for an evening. (This show lasts a full two hours, with intermission which is pushing it for a magic act.)
Half the show is, in the strict sense of the word, marvellous; the other half is dull. Choose."
I have had to edit this review drastically for brevity. It should give you an idea though.
In the same newspaper is a separate article about Patrick Watson who has a hand in directing David's show. Patrick is a famous broadcaster in Canada and at one time was the head of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
He mentions Allan Slaight (the author of the Stweart James book) in the article Here is an extract. It made me laugh like hell.
"Allan Slaight is famous as head of Standard Broadcasting (now Standard Radio.) Slaight was in the news himself recently, in a list of the 10 richest people in Canada, a magic trick in itself.
'we had been getting together for magic lunches' says Watson, adding that , buoyed by their combined talents, he and Slaight decided to take their magic act on the road-well sort of. They performed at Smile Company, a charitable theatre.
'That night, after the perfomance' says Watson, ' my wife, Caroline, woke me and said, 'if you ever do anything like that again, I'll divorce you'"
"Were you that bad?" I ask.
"I was terrible" says Watson, "and Slaight wasn't any better"
End of article. The idea of two eminent people like that doing a substandard magic show made me smile. At least Patrick admitted it. A lot people don't