MMF 2018 Review: “Up Close & Personal” performed by Carisa Hendrix

This special performance as part of the 2018 Melbourne Magic Festival was hosted at The Laneway Theatre – a hidden magic theatre, away from the main magic hub. I escorted a close friend to the theatre as we had both seen Carisa Hendrix’ character performance as Lucy Darling the week prior, but we were both thoroughly curious and intrigued. We wanted to see more and were willing to keep travelling down that proverbial ‘rabbit hole’! Away from her many characters (Lucy Darling and DeeDee Darling to name a couple) Carisa Hendrix is a fascinating person and performer in her own right – while retaining a refreshing ‘down to earth’ demeanour. Given this was a ‘one night only’ magic show in  an intimate theatre with 32 seats I knew we were all in for a special night of magic and stories.

Opening the magic show with a vocal ’round up’ of all her characters thrilled me, and captured the attention of everyone in the audience. Pleasingly, everyone in the audience had seen at least one of Carisa’s characters, with a good portion of the audience having seen more than one character (Lucy and DeeDee). It was a delight to watch Carisa perform her own style of magic along with some ‘sideshow’ elements, away from the trappings of different voices, elaborate costumes and extensive sets. The stories that Carisa chose alongside her pieces of magic were well selected to evoke strong emotions along with a sprinkling of mischievousness. Some of the stories were tied to Carisa’s many (again, fascinating!) disciplines – like art / design, working as a magician’s assistant, her varied skills and awards / achievements – and her life adventures.

Some people believe that with strong characters, come people who prefer to hide behind those characters. I don’t personally believe this is true in Carisa’s case, however I do think this performance showed a lot of bravery. With many magicians putting on a ‘different face’ to their audience vs their ‘off stage’ face and persona, I felt that with this show we saw the genuine, true Carisa. The show that was delivered to the audience was an exact match to the name of the show, and the audience enjoyed the show so much.

As the show progressed, Carisa’s stories evoked stronger emotions. With a stirring finale, I felt that Carisa had the audience in the palm of her hand – as she usually does – but not by any character other than herself. Concluding with a massive round of applause for a performer who consistently gives each show her all, Carisa stayed back to personally thank each audience member for attending which was a sweet touch. Demonstrating so much with a show like this, I think Carisa will have many fans for life.

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