Visiting the Melbourne Magic Festival from Adelaide, well known magician Matt Tarrant is an expert marketer and clearly has a strong following of fans. You could barely go anywhere in the festival without seeing Matt’s face on his flyers and posters, and the show I attended was heaving with audience members – every seat in the large theatre was filled.
Everything about this show was cleverly planned – from the music playlist the audience listened to pre show, to the items on stage and the large screen set up with social media handles and contact details. Matt is clearly aware of his modern audience’s tastes and tendencies, yet he opened the show with a brief monologue of how modern audiences annoy / frustrate him – as he “knows” (believes?) they will all rush online after magic shows to research how every trick is done. Given the wide range of (family) audience members this could be true for a portion of the audience, however I’d have preferred if he’d taken the time to conduct a brief “audience poll” – like I have seen magicians do in the past – as the results may surprise him. Personally, I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t have seen 500 magic shows across my lifetime if I insisted on researching how everything was done, however that’s just me! Making assumptions about how your audience ‘treats’ magic or processes magic shows can lead to a disconnect between performer and audience.
Matt commenced the show with a pleasing piece of card magic along with a nice story of how he became interested in magic as a child. Fun pieces of card magic also reappeared later in the show, much to the delight of the audience who gasped with delight at the final reveal. Mentalism featured heavily in Matt’s show, and I liked how Matt used stories and video clips when explaining what he wanted to achieve with his magic. Audience volunteers were used at regular intervals during Matt’s performance (especially during the mentalism segments) and for the most part, audience members were very keen to help Matt out on stage. These parts of the show were exciting, as a plush toy was enthusiastically tossed around large sections of the audience to select volunteers – which also added to the fun atmosphere of the show.
While the mentalism segments of the show were generally fun, I found some pieces to be less convincing than others. I don’t know if this is due to the setup of the particular piece or the choice of audience volunteer. There was also a ‘Russian Roulette’ magic piece that was largely hyped via video, with a volunteer from the audience who clearly did not wish to be onstage or help out. It was a shame that another (keen!) audience member couldn’t be selected for that piece as it made for tense, uncomfortable viewing. Lucky Matt was able to finish with a sweet, lighthearted piece of magic as a finale. The finale was delightful and I’m glad that a child volunteer was chosen from the audience as the children in Matt’s audience had been dying to help him out all night.
Overall it was an entertaining magic show, and I’m grateful that I had the chance to see it. I felt that the show included a good selection of Matt’s ‘favourite’ effects, however the show seemed restricted to cards and mentalism (which I did not expect). It would be good to see more pieces of magic from Matt that aren’t restricted to those two categories.
VERDICT: An entertaining show, and I guess a ‘safe bet’ if you don’t see a lot of magic (but don’t mind helping on stage). I felt this show was aimed more at adults rather than children (as mentalism can bore children, especially so when only adult helpers are used). Be aware that Matt uses a lot of audience volunteers so if you’re not comfortable with that, then this isn’t the show for you.
*disclaimer: I attended the show as a guest.