It's after hours at Edinburgh's Writers' Museum, and three magicians are here: one for each of three writers, ready to astound you with their tricks. Each of their acts is different, but each draws in its own way inspiration from the writer whose life fills the room.
The museum itself holds a collection covering three famous Scottish authors: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Each magician is situated in a room containing one author's collection. The premise of being surrounded by the author's artefacts works well, and the venue itself provides smaller rooms perfect for close-up magic. Being divided into smaller groups maintains an intimacy which suits this style, allowing a group bond to form as we explore the spaces together.
The first magician, Adam, takes on Robert Burns, and nicely infuses the set with his theme; from red roses to an ode to a mouse, it worked well, and he has an excellent variety of props and tricks. Adam is quite a young magician and let his nerves show in places, but he has a quick mind and good banter when he committed to it. He has clearly put a lot of thought into the presentation of the tricks, and the link to Burns. His final trick diverges a little from the theme, but it's so skilful that can easily be forgiven.
Next comes Lewis, who takes Walter Scott in a different direction, treating us to some especially sharp card tricks from the infamous card cheat of the same name (though not the same peerage!). He made excellent use of “mistakes” to draw laughter from the audience, included fascinating snippets of history, and finished on a high. Although he didn’t entirely follow the brief, he created a show that worked really well and was as interesting as it was surprising.
The last magician I saw, Jody, infuses his tricks the most thoroughly with the spirit and works of his author – Robert Louis Stevenson. Those who know his works appreciated a message in a bottle or the Black Spot as soon as they appeared, but for those less familiar with the author, there was ample explanation. A smooth talker, Jody is a very engaging magician, and was especially good with the younger lad in our group.
The idea behind this show is an excellent one, and the different direction each performer took for their act made for an interesting variety of tricks. While much of the magic is very familiar, it is successfully given a new twist with the clever theme.