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Monday, October 15, 2012

A Brush With Death - In Calgary!

The Monday Morning "Somebody-Asked-Me-To, So-Here-I-Go" Entertainment Review:

A Brush With Death
John Dutton Theatre, Castell Public Library

Well, I am pleased to report that I have survived a brush with death - although I'm pretty sure I was never really all that much at risk. A Brush With Death is actually a Calgary production of macabre magic, sprinkled liberally with good-natured comedy. Which can be awfully hard to review.

I am always loathe to give anything away here in these sorts of reviews, so that the element of surprise remains intact when you choose to attend a show. I could certainly highlight some of the gags that went well - from audience participation moments that put people on the spot, only to see them rise to the challenge and even come close to stealing the show. One gentleman took his obligation to monitor a locked box very seriously, if by serious you mean waving your hands in the air while gyrating like Beyonce trying to shake off a mini-skirt... 

I can also say that the show often elicits the reaction that it aspires to, especially when host and producer Yeats Wong dabbles in some onstage blood-letting - queasy reactions back from the packed theatre indicated his efforts freaked out his audience. 

Headliner Michael Berends brought a variety of mentalist and escape segments to last night's show, including a metal box escape that I can't even begin to imagine how he squeezes into, let alone gets out of. Clearly he has no claustrophobia issues...

On a side note, whenever I see a performer wearing one of those earpiece microphones, I can't help but see Vince from the late-nite TV "Slap Chop" commercials. I wonder if we could invite him to try getting out of that metal box...    

Magic Assistant Gwyn Auger managed to survive her boss's best efforts to undo her - through a variety of tortuous attempts. A good sport, she appeared fine while signing photos and posing for pictures after the show, even after being dragged offstage at one point. My only piece of advice for her would be to consider some self-defence courses - that stage can get downright unfriendly!

The entire proceeding to my mind adheres to the enduring tradition of the genre - the show pays tribute to a style of magic that has been around literally for decades and decades. So for younger audience members, everything old is new again. In its third year, the packed house indicates this show has found a way to draw their audience away from the ridiculous amount of competing entertainment options. 

Find out more for yourself at their website.

Chow for now! 


Anonymous said...

I went to this show last night here in Calgary and i have to say that it didnt live up to the hype that i thought it would. It was short and not gory at all and i have a feeling it was set up with the audience prior to the show because certain seats had papers with names on them and only those people were picked to go up. I didnt enjoy it so im not sure how its still going on when it was trully that bad.

Anonymous said...

The seats with papers on it were for a group of people who purchased tickets at a group rate (+12 people).

ThatDanGuy said...

Hello Anonymous #1 - I always try to base these reviews on the audience as much as myself - there were(I felt) legitimate reactions from the audience, and loads of them after the show buzzing around the cast.

But thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

ThatDanGuy said...

Hello Anonymous #2!

Thanks for the explanation!

Mrs That Dan Guy said...

I did not enjoy the show unfortunately. Having seen some of the greatest magicians of our time, perhaps the expectation was set too high, but in this show there were too many slow or awkward parts, no razzle-dazzle. The only act that was pretty good was the headliner escaping from the small metal box. Other than that, it lacked fluidity and energy. It seemed the performers are assuming a lot of what they think the audience can see clearly, you can't. IE: When people keep saying "the blood on the stage", you cant see anything on the stage, or when the host pretended to put stakes or whatever they were through the girl, the prop is so small and if you are sitting off to the side, as I was, you cant see anything of any effect. And the girl needs to enhance her acting skills.
If you go, go with the expectation this is a "junior" show, perhaps think "practicing" magicians.

ThatDanGuy said...

I gave credit where credit was due, and noted as well that many lingered after the show for autographs and pictures.