Melbourne Fringe 2019 Review: “Game Boys Cinematic Universe”

Eden and Josh are the “Game Boys” and are your very friendly and enthusiastic hosts for their show “Game Boys Cinematic Universe”. The Game Boys do well to transform a small theatre within Trades Hall into a fun backstage ‘trolley ride’ via the Game Boys Studios Backlot Tour (reminiscent of the sorts of trolley rides at theme parks that I’m sure many tourists have done before) with some clever graphics and jokes included.

“Game Boys Cinematic Universe” is an action packed and very interactive show, and the Game Boys waste no time sharing knowledge of their favourite movies with their audience, mixed in with some fun games and activities. This show does feature some audience participation, but much of it was off stage and the Game Boys are ultra friendly and treat audience members very well. Personal highlights for me were the parody moments with prop comedy, some immersive play scenes and the clever movie parallels that were explored throughout the show. Another highlight was the Game Boys’ penchant for a certain big budget movie of the 90’s with iconic music which conjured some fantastic nostalgic moments for everyone in the audience. This show contained a lot of fun activities, with one of my favourites being a movie title game show – which made for some very clever and very entertaining moments!

“Game Boys Cinematic Universe” is a light hearted show that demonstrates a lot of depth by the time show ends, all of which is enhanced by Eden and Josh being genuine movie buffs and clearly holding much movie knowledge between them. The Game Boys take a clear delight in surprising their audience and for me, the surprises just kept coming throughout the entire show. I noticed that at the end of the show, much of audience was beaming and congratulating the Game Boys on such an enjoyable adventure (well deserved!) I’m sure even the most hardened movie critic would find this show irresistibly enjoyable.

VERDICT: Hold onto your hats, keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times and strap yourselves in for a very fun evening of fun theme park lines, movie puns and heavy doses of movie nostalgia! Game Boys Cinematic Universe runs deeper than quick movie one liners to create some sweet moments of movie magic for audience members and movie fans alike. Currently screening for a very limited time – don’t miss out!!

*Disclaimer: I attended this performance as a guest of the Game Boys.

Tickets / info: https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/game-boys-cinematic-universe/

Melbourne Fringe 2019 Review: “The Long Boy”

 Jon O  – one third of the ‘Bombastic JOE’ trio – has diverged this season to star in his own show “The Long Boy”. Nestled within the intimate venue ‘Crowded in the Vaults’ if you’ve never met Jon O, it will become immediately apparent why he’s known as “The Long Boy”. Comically tall with appropriately long arms and legs, Jon O uses plenty of physical comedy teamed with amusing scenarios and props to keep the laughs rolling for his audience.

Jon O opened his show with a thoroughly hilarious silent sequence. Honestly a great sign if you can have the audience calling for more a mere couple of minutes into the show! Throughout “The Long Boy” much of the comedy came from smooth observations of real life scenarios mixed with some wacky scenarios plus some fabulous dance breaks. Ever energetic, I pity the people that get stuck next to Jon O on the dancefloor because I’m convinced he can out-dance anyone! Another strength of the show is Jon O’s characterisations – he’s the man of a thousand faces, with many different expressions (and oh how we all laughed). As expected, a portion of the humour was aimed at Jon O’s tall and lanky nature too. The show is more than the typical flimsy sketches, with some call backs and recurring themes which helped to hold the attention of the audience.

Jon O “The Long Boy” is not short on laughs. It’s easy to get carried away during Jon O’s comic cavalcade of characters. I can recall some moments where the audience got swept away with the storylines within the show.

VERDICT: Jon O is larger than life on the stage and “The Long Boy” is large on laughs too. Highly enjoyable show and Jon O gave the audience what they wanted – laughs and plenty of them. If I had to provide a star rating for this show, it would be 3.5 stars out of 5

*Disclaimer: I attended the show as a guest of the producer

Tay Around Town gets ready to review shows during the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival!

‘Festival season’ in Melbourne never seems to end, which is fantastic as it means there are always new shows to see and adventures to be had.

I’m excited to announce that over the coming weeks I’ll be reviewing a small assortment of shows that are part of the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival. Melbourne Fringe has always been one of my favourite festivals as I feel it covers so many facets of what can be considered as art and entertainment. Comedy shows and cabaret shows are certainly in the line-up for reviewing this year, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for some reviews coming up shortly.

Thanks for reading! Tay

PS: if you’re looking to find out more about the Melbourne Fringe Festival, head to their website: https://melbournefringe.com.au/

 

Review: “How I Met My Dead Husband” performed by Lansy Feng

  I was delighted to be invited by Wit Incorporated to visit the lovely Bluestone Church Arts Space in Footscray for their production of “How I Met My Dead Husband” performed by Lansy Feng.  Before you ask – yes, it is possible to attend a production billed as a ‘cabaret funeral’ and have a great time (even some laughs) while still respecting other cultures and death / funerals. “How I Met My Dead Husband”manages to do all that and more which is testament to all the talent and efforts that have combined to make the show so worthwhile.

LF1Photo Credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn

Lansy Feng plays Chuen-Jiau, who is the focal point of the story alongside her dearly departed husband Yueh (who is regularly referred to and described but never physically seen). Chuen-Jiau is on a journey to find Yueh (who is hidden in space and time) and ultimately to find love. The entire show is performed in front of a funeral alter and Yueh’s coffin, however this does not distract from the performance. Chuen-Jiau’s story is one that spans multiple lives (via reincarnation), cultures and languages which makes this show all the more compelling. Much of the emotion in this story is conveyed via short songs, and I thoroughly enjoyed Lansy Feng’s beautiful singing. When the song words weren’t in Engligh, they were in Mandarin or French, however there was always such emotion in the melody and Lansy’s eyes that we could always tell what Lansy was singing about. I could see the joy and sparkle in Lansy’s eyes every time she sang above love. At other times, Lansy’s eyes were wistful and misty as she sang about loss and the sacrifices of love. Lansy looks demure however she sings emphatically as Chuen-Jiau!

lf4Photo Credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn

Clever theatrical methods helped to build the story over time – after all, lots of timespans and reincarnations could become confusing. Luckily, “How I Met My Dead Husband” ensures that the audience follows Chuen-Jiau closely on her journey (and her search for love and Yueh). The entire story is weaved together via vignettes of song (no lengthy boring ballads here), modern dialogue and some fun props / scenarios. I liked the poignant reminders of life (and the life beyond) in addition to the greater message regarding self love and the different ways love can be expressed. These greater messages were uplifting and made the show heartwarming. My heart felt so full at the conclusion of the show.

Another heartwarming aspect of this production is Wit Incorporated itself. Regularly referring to the crowd as ‘friends’ I’ve never felt so welcomed by / at an independent theatre (and one that is unfunded – quite a feat in itself in a world where costs are rising all the time). There were lots of friendly faces everywhere I turned so I truly can’t recommend Wit Incorporated and “How I Met My Dead Husband” enough.

VERDICT: A love story that transcends time and lives, woven via song and witty dialogue. “How I Met My Dead Husband” is a beautiful story despite its dark title. Look beyond the title, bring your imagination and be swept away by Chuen-Jiau’s captivating story. Her messages within will stay with you.

*Disclaimer: I attended this production as a guest of Wit Incorporated

Review: “Boeing, Boeing” performed by The Basin Theatre

 Living in Melbourne’s West, I relish the chance to get ‘around town’ and visit local theatre productions which are outside my local area. Recently, my partner and I visited The Basin Theatre – which is a sweet theatre set off a very tree lined road. The Basin Theatre itself is thoroughly charming, with warm welcomes and plenty of sofa seating in the foyer to enjoy pre show and at interval. Better yet, tickets include pre and post show (and interval) refreshments which was a nice touch. There’s also the opportunity to meet cast members in the foyer post show so if you visit, do ensure you stick around for that!

The production for the current season is French playright Marco Camoletti’s comical farce “Boeing Boeing”, which is set in the 1960’s. Best of all, this is a ‘door play’ (one of my favourite kinds of theatrical setups), with all kinds of characters making appearances (and reappearances) via the doors throughout the show. The superb cast of characters is comprised of Bernard (played by Gordon Boyd) – who is a bachelor and the central character in the story, Bernard’s enthusiastic French friend Robert (played by Bruce Hardie), Bernard’s sassy housekeeper Bertha (played by Cate Dowling-Trask) and of course, Bernard’s three love interests – the air hostesses. Gretchen (played by Charlie Jean) is a ‘no nonsense’ dominant German, Gabriella (played by Nataleigh Maree) is a ‘classic’ Italian -complete with many hand gestures – and Gloria (played by Peta Owen) is an affable American. The synopsis of the show is fairly simple, in that Bernard juggles all his love interests via their flight schedules, ensuring that none overlap when they each land in Paris to spend time with their special Bernard. None are aware of each other’s existence, until Bernard’s plan slowly starts to unravel with storms, flight cancellations and the introduction of faster jumbo jets.

This show is very entertaining via its dialogue and comedic timing – everyone seems to have witty one liners that are on point (and there are even a few sneaky double entendres that made me laugh even harder!) Ripples of audience laughter were a constant throughout the show. Keep an eye out for Gretchen (played by Charlie Jean) in particular who is very enthusiastic and comical in her role, and helps to keep the laughs soaring in the show with her movements and facial expressions. Gretchen has a dazzling smile and just radiates love and happiness throughout her scenes and to the audience. She was a joy to watch and simply shone! Another personal highlight was Frenchman Robert (played by Bruce Hardie) who had an accent that never wavered and was often literally caught between characters in some hilarious scenarios. It was very entertaining to see Bernard (played by Gordon Boyd) sweat when he realised there were flaws in his plan and he had to work even harder to keep his plan ‘in the air’ (so to speak) – especially when his air hostess lovers each had their own opinions and weren’t afraid to voice them. I felt like it was a trip to another time as the same plan / concept just wouldn’t work in 2019 with the nature of the airline industry and aviation technology. The set dressing and music playing before the show all helped to transport the audience back to the 1960’s (in addition to the cast outfits!)

This production runs for approx 2 hours (plus interval) however time does indeed fly when you’re having fun and we just wanted to stay longer as the show was a fun, lighthearted night out. Thoroughly enjoyable.

 VERDICT: Fasten your seatbelts and stow away your troubles for an entertaining journey with engaging characters, featuring plenty of comedic highs. They say “If it ain’t Boeing I’m not going” so make “Boeing, Boeing” your next destination for comedy!

Interview with Lansy Feng, star of Wit Incorporated’s production of “How I Met My Dead Husband”

Wit Incorporated is an award-winning, artist-led theatre company based in Melbourne’s West. Having attended (and thoroughly enjoyed!) a previous production – ‘Ophelia Thinks Harder’ – I’m excited to attend opening night of their next hotly anticipated show “How I Met My Dead Husband” starring Lansy Feng.

LF3Photo credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn

I’m even more excited to share with you all an interview with Lansy Feng, which will hopefully pique your interest about this new show and provide a glimpse into some of the thoughts and preparation behind it all. Thank you to Lansy Feng and the Wit Incorporated team for taking the time to answer my questions.

LF111fy7jegPhoto credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn

1. Describe “How I Met My Dead Husband” in 3 words

heartfelt, magical, surprising

 
2. What has influenced your performance in this production (ie any cultural and personal elements you wish to share with readers)?

I grew up in a conservative small town in Taiwan with strict parents. I’ve learnt obedience, living in the way that the society wants you to, and behaving like a good girl from school from my parents and from judgmental people. I fought battles and battles with my parents years for what I wanted and who I wanted to be. Won some, lost some. But in every battle, I learnt something and they did too. It took time for them to accept all the new stuff but they listened. They are the best parents ever. The third year of my uni as an exchange student studying in the USA has broaden my horizons a lot. I was even more sure I should follow my heart and my dreams.

Having this background helped me to relate to Chuen-Jiau’s story. Even though her time in Taiwan is more than 200 years before now, cultural background is still quite similar.  She is like me, hard-headed, strong, and fought for her dreams.

Also, Belinda the director has given me a great support throughout all the rehearsals helped me to discover more in this character. She is amazing!

3. “How I Met My Dead Husband” raises some serious topics (death, funerals etc) – how do you ensure things don’t get too confronting for your audiences?

The story is a woman on her dead husband’s funeral using a humorous, modern way to tell the people her tragic lives. She has been through A LOT! And she survived and still living with hope and laughter. It’s encouraging and loving. We also treat the funeral altar in a respectful way to ensure the humor doesn’t come from silliness.

4. How has this production changed you?

I’ve learnt so much from this production, I’ve learnt more about my own culture. I’ve learnt to work with a whole team taking on people’s great ideas. I’ve learnt that I’m extremely lucky to work with a beautiful team of people who helped to make this production come to live. I’ve also learnt that when there’s a deadline for your dream to come true, you are capable to write a new song in one afternoon to replace the one you are not allowed to use.

5. Without giving too much away, what can audiences expect from “How I Met My Dead Husband”?

Have you seen Aladdin and Jasmine on the magic carpet exploring their world singing a whole new world? Yeah, it’s not that.

It’s more like, Chuen-Jiau will take you on her magical carpet to a surprising, emotional, dramatic and cultural adventure with a pair of funny goggles.
…And she will sing 8 other songs and sometimes shows off her bad French!

LF2Photo credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn

“How I Met My Dead Husband” runs from at
concluding at at:
Bluestone Church Arts Space 8A Hyde Street Footscray, VIC, 3011

Review: “A Midnight Visit”

On an appropriately gloomy and rain swept Winter’s night, I made my way to a warehouse building in North Melbourne to partake in “A Midnight Visit” staged by Broad Encounters. Billed as a ‘5 star immersive theatre experience’, “A Midnight Visit” is a maze of different rooms containing different experiences and themes, largely based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Despite not being familiar with all of Poe’s work, I do like the macabre / fantasy / horror genre, so I was very excited (and a bit nervous) to enter what I took to be like a ‘spook house / haunted house’ experience for adults.

There was so much I enjoyed about this experience! It pains me not to write too much as I don’t want to give too much away (despite ‘the experience’ changing regularly). I feel like in my hour and a half I was able to discover and visit many different rooms with different ‘feels’. Some rooms were spooky and macabre; others made me giggle and take in all the textures and surroundings. There was even a room with a ball pit , which I took particular delight in! There are rooms that you wish to linger in (the ball pit!) and other rooms where you almost feel like you shouldn’t be there, lest you see too much beyond the mortal veil. I’m sure some rooms are designed to push the ‘comfort level’ limits of visitors. Once you’re past the ‘receiving room’, the entire experience is like a ‘choose your own adventure’ story. There’s no set path to follow, just lots of curious spaces to discover and even more curious characters to meet – and what performances we were treated to! Seems everyone in the building is a great storyteller and the characters engage the audience so well. A quote from Poe is very apt here: “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” and this experience is quite dreamlike. Mentally I forgot I was in Melbourne entirely. Once I understood the flow of the evening, my nerves melted away and each new room I explored was done out of excitement more than hesitation, peeling back the curtain and peeking into different realms and seemingly worlds encased solely in rooms.

The entire experience itself is well staffed, managed and organised. From the moment you step through the threshold from the outside world into this otherworldly experience, you are in safe hands and there is guidance should you need it. This isn’t the kind of experience / ‘spook house’ where there are jump scares and characters are literally out to harshly grab / swipe at you. It’s a more thoughtful experience where you can choose how interactive you wish to be. All elements of the experience are combined beautifully and I wish I could have stayed longer – I was reluctant to leave when our timeslot ended, I wanted to remain the dreamlike world for an extended period of time.

It was a completely fascinating and entertaining evening and an exciting voyage into another world. Given that I visited almost a week ago and it has been on my mind regularly since then is testament to my enjoyment of the experience. In my opinion, the ticket price is well worth it for such a well run, enjoyable experience. “A Midnight Visit” travels and will be leaving Melbourne soon, so best to get tickets promptly for this one. Oh, and for those curious – no, the visit to this experience did not actually occur at midnight!

VERDICT: Best suited to adults (18+) due to themes and content, a fantastic escape from the ordinary and ‘day to day’ world. Mysterious, curious and exciting I was hesitant to leave and just wanted to keep exploring. Well worth a visit if you’re a Poe / literary fan or not.

Tickets / more information: https://amidnightvisit.com/

MMF 2019: BONUS LIST of shows that made me cry with laughter!

Well, the 2019 Melbourne Magic Festival was an incredible ride that including many surprising moments and of course much laughter and enjoyment. In fact, one of the outcomes of my time at the festival is that I realised I laughed every single day that I was there (as opposed to my usual life where I obviously do not laugh enough some days)!

In light of that, I present to you a NEW LISTING for 2019: a list of the 3 shows during the Melbourne Magic Festival that made me cry with laughter. Yes, I am easily entertained but not every show makes me cry with laughter…I have sacrificed eye makeup and my clothing sleeves a few times to wipe away my tears as I try to regain my composure. It feels good to laugh so much, so I hope you enjoy this new list!

“MagicSports” performed by teams of magicians
A show like TheatreSports….except everything is magical. The segment / game titled “Make a trick” usually has me laughing way too much but this year, there were another two games that also had me crying with laughter: “style rollercoaster” featuring hilarious interpretive dance and “arms expert” with wild gestures and movements. “Balloonatics” was a new game which also made me laugh a lot too. I laughed so much during this show that I very nearly wet myself so I guess take that as a warning: YOU WILL LAUGH LOTS during this show!! Hot tip: Take minimal caffeine and use the bathroom before the show.

“The Great Kaplan” performed by David Kaplan
The opening sequence in his show slayed me! Whilst he was moving on with the rest of his performance it took a while for me to regain my composure after the hilarious sequence of events that opened his show. The ‘happy crying face emoji’ is apt here…David Kaplan’s show was loaded with comedy – much more comedy than I expected. I still smile when I think of his show.

“Friends of Friends” performed by various ‘friends’ of magicians
A new and quite thrilling show for 2019. I love character magic, so this show already had a strong appeal however I had no idea of exactly what was in store. The ‘Friends’ that appeared during the show just kept getting funnier and funnier as the night went along….standout hilarity goes to “Nostradamicus” with his Russian roulette style soda routine; “Demona” who slayed me with her witty one liners and hilarious sword fight routine; and “Barry Rumpey” with his psychic surgery on an audience volunteer who prompted much of the comedy…this show was wild and I loved every minute. I hope it returns in future!

MMF 2019: Tay’s Top 10 Shows

 Sadly, the 2019 Melbourne Magic Festival has vanished for another year – the magicians have packed their suitcases, waved their wands and are probably appearing elsewhere by now. I always feel sad to see the festival go, because for two weeks I feel like it’s a wonderful magical adventure each and every day with special moment around every corner. Beyond the magic, the Melbourne Magic Festival always presents an opportunity to laugh and enjoy magic with my friends, and to meet new friends. Additionally, 2019 was the first year I was able to take the full two weeks off from my ‘day job’ to fully immerse myself in the festival (which made me immensely happy), and to write about each of the 38 shows that I saw. This also means that I hold a new PERSONAL BEST of 38 SHOWS SEEN during the magic festival’s two weeks!!

For those of you new to this blog, one of my own ‘post festival’ traditions is that after all the reviews have been written I compile a ‘top list of shows’. These are the shows that have presented (in my opinion) the most amazing, unforgettable or incredible pieces of magic. The shows that have impressed me and that have excelled either in presentation, magical effects or by blowing away my expectations. Often these are the sorts of shows I talk about long after the festival has ended (sometimes even years afterwards!) Each year I’ve compiled this list, the amount of shows on the list has changed- this year there are 10 shows on the list (plus a couple of bonus ‘special mentions’!). There are also more mentions of family shows on the list – due to number of shows seen and vastly higher numbers of family shows on the festival program this year. Another change this year (probably partly due to the fallout of watching 38 shows!) is that I have a NEW listing which will be in a separate blog post….of the 3 shows that made me cry with laughter!

Please enjoy Tay’s Top Ten shows for the 2019 Melbourne Magic Festival, and congratulations to those who made the list!

“What The F*** And Other Things You’ll Say Tomorrow” performed by Vyom Sharma
During the first week of the festival, this show was the talk of the festival itself – and for good reason! Totally impressive show that blew away all my expectations. It was well put together and weeks later I’m still thinking about this show. I loved the modern references and nature of much of the content and the surprises that just kept coming.

“Indulgence with Lucy Darling” performed by Carisa Hendrix
What more can I say about the incredible magician and character that is Lucy Darling?!! She has this amazing (and quite frankly unparalleled) habit of just blowing me away with her beautiful  magic each time she appears in Melbourne. A lot of people have had to listen to me ‘rabbit on’ about Lucy (especially my partner) but it’s all for good reason. She’s often the talk of the festival, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets her own fan club here soon. If you haven’t seen a Lucy Darling show yet, you’re missing out – treat yourself to her amazing magic next time she’s in town!

“The Handsome Jack Experience” performed by John Lovick
We are so lucky in Melbourne to have Handsome Jack come and visit us! He has an awesome reputation and show to match. Handsome Jack is the complete package: suave (think of a secret agent / James Bond type who also does magic!) incredibly talented, mystifying and with a delightful show. Bonus – dreamy narration voice! He wowed many audience members and ensure we all had a great time – what more could you want?!

“Lu Chen: Live in Melbourne” performed by Lu Chen
One of the international superstars of the festival, and (judging by the fact his entire show run was sold out pre festival) one of the hotly anticipated stars that everyone was keen to watch. Lu Chen’s show was highly enjoyable and had some exquisite moments. Top class mentalism with strong storytelling and surprising moments right up to the show’s end. Simply fascinating

“The Great Kaplan” performed by David Kaplan
Another international superstar of the festival, The Great Kaplan’s show was an entertaining, highly surprising and often hilarious adventure. It was so exciting as I literally had no idea what to expect! I laughed way more than I ever expected to laugh during this show. There were some scenes that may have caused my brain to break just a little (those that saw the show will know what I’m referring to). What’s better is that this was a perfect show for families too – The Great Kaplan’s show really has it all.

“The Quizzical Mr Jeff” performed by Mr Jeff
This was an unusual show in that it was very circus based (however still very magical, with magic features included) AND it was predominantly performed in silence. Mr Jeff’s show is one of the shows that I’ve been thinking about a lot, and it has already been over 2 weeks since I saw his show! All of Mr Jeff’s variety of skills are amazing, his show is hilarious and I immensely enjoyed the audience interaction elements. His contact juggling took me to another dimension. I can’t say enough good things about him and his show!

“Boondoggle” performed by Nick Nickolas and Ruby T
I had reports all week of people enjoying this show, and I was not disappointed! Nick Nickolas and Ruby T performed a highly entertaining show that combined each of their talents with some great storylines. Nick himself is multi talented but for his show his forte seemed to be card magic and quick one liners with the audience; Ruby T charmed the audience with her fantastic mind reading and sweet comedy / facial experessions / interpretive dance. This show was a true delight and still makes me smile thinking about it a week later.

“Flower Press Parts 1 and 2” performed by Dane Certificate
Dane’s shows are a consistent personal highlight for me, as his shows are non linear and very surreal- which basically enhances the unexpected nature of his shows. To write too much about what goes on would be to give far too much away. Dane Certificate’s shows are for those who seek to look beyond the traditional concepts of magic shows. Often his shows combine many art forms in one (magic; theatre; origami etc). ALWAYS a personal highlight.

“Vincent” performed by Vincent Kuo
Vincent approaches magic in a different way to others and I vastly appreciate that. An extremely humble magician who often doesn’t provide any blurb for his show, you simply need to attend the show and just sit back in wonder. Impressive and exquisite magic that will have you thinking long after the show has passed await you at Vincent’s show. His show was a celebration of many things, and I felt so uplifted afterwards.

“MAYHEM!” performed by Brendan Dooley
This family magic show was WAY too enjoyable to not include! Some children’s / family magic shows can be a bit dry or disengaging for adults, but Brendan made sure his show was enjoyable for everyone. There were hilarious moments, fantastic interactions with audience volunteers and some surprising magic (that even surprised me!) MAYHEM! blew away all my expectations away and Brendan Dooley himself is a natural on stage – talented and a joy to watch. Thinking about this show still makes me smile.

SPECIAL MENTIONS
Given the number of shows I saw this year, the top ten list was a challenge to compile so I also wanted to give a quick ‘shout out’ for some shows that have earned special mentions:
“Almost Unbelievable” performed by Chi Han Yeo: in fact was an unbelievable show of card magic and storytelling. I feel sad for those who missed out on this show.

“The World Awaits You” performed by Lachlan Wilde: firstly, I take my hat off to Lachlan for an awesome show title. Secondly, the show was pure enjoyment to watch. I’ve seen Lachlan’s magic for a while now but I loved how everything came together in this show.

“Up Close and Personal” performed by Carisa Hendrix: we are lucky to have Carisa Hendrix bring her cast of wonderful characters to the magic festival, but this show makes us even luckier. I’m sure it’s easier to hide behind characters however each year Carisa goes a step beyond, sheds her characters and shows audiences some truly amazing close up magic. A recurring festival highlight for me.

“Now You See Us” performed by Lee Cohen, Nicola Gidley and Prue Spencer: a fantastic show by some incredibly talented women. Such an enjoyable show with some important messages.

MMF 2019 Review: The Best of the Magic Fest – Finale Edition

Having attended eleven Melbourne Magic Festivals so far, one of my long standing traditions each year is to attend the final installment of ‘The Best of the Magic Fest’  – I love this tradition so much that often the very first festival ticket I buy is the one to the very last show of ‘The Best of the Magic Fest’. During the course of the Melbourne Magic Festival, ‘The Best of the Magic Fest’ is the last show to run each night and features a rotation of guest magicians. The finale edition of ‘The Best of the Magic Fest’ is the one to attend however as it features a constant magical stream of performers popping in to perform short pieces of magic. How many performers you ask? Well no one is ever sure but for 2019 the tally exceeded twenty performers! That’s right – OVER TWENTY!

At the helm of this madcap show is Nicholas J Johnson who tries (as much as he can) to keep the show on track. This year he tried to insist the audience had ‘had enough’ (much like a bartender calling last drinks / trying to refuse service to drunk patrons) only to be voraciously shouted down by the audience who wanted more – and more magic we were served. To be honest, at the end of the show most of the audience didn’t want to leave – we’d happily be trapped in that room to watch magic all night if we could.

Naturally there are far too many magicians performing to mention here, however I will mention that an incredibly wide variety of magical pieces are showcased during this show – from sponge ball magic you might see at a children’s magic show right through to prompt card miracles that left audience members shaking their head in disbelief. The magic is swift, as are the changeovers between performers – to blink is to risk missing some of the action. Some special guests at this show didn’t even have shows at the festival and one was even lining up to try and watch the show and was dragged on stage – that’s how surprising the lineup is!

The finale of ‘The Best of the Magic Fest’ is always the most of everything – the MOST magical pieces, the MOST madcap and is often the MOST entertaining to. It is magic at its MOST excessive….but I wouldn’t have it any other way. At the conclusion of this show, my hands were dry from clapping so much and my voice was hoarse but I was so happy. The only question I had left was: what happened to Gary the Magician? (Gary is a much loved special guest who only appears at the last ‘best of the fest’ show).

VERDICT: my hot tip is to book your tickets NOW to ‘The Best of the Magic Fest’ at the 2020 Melbourne Magic Festival! Definitely a festival highlight that consistently surprises and endures.

*PS: seriously though, what happened to Gary? DO I need to place ‘Missing’ posters around town? We miss him and I’m sure his family needs him too. Gary, if you’re out there, please come back. x