4 star review of Tragic Magic in Edinburgh News

4 stars to Tragic Magic in Edinburgh News

HAVING won four consecutive Scottish Close-up Magic Champion Awards and with a Magician Of The Year title to his credit, you’d forgive Michael Neto for wanting to stick to his tried-and-successfully-tested brand of magic.

* * * *

Scottish Storytelling Centre

And in many ways he has. The difference is he has daringly added a romantic storyline based around a jobbing magician to create a more theatrical effect.

As street entertainer Alan Sparks, Neto’s character quickly discovers the magical charm that once bewitched his partner Emily is now the very thing that’s pushing her away. Wiping children’s party vomit off his props isn’t doing much for his mood, either, so with a career-defining slot in a large Las Vegas hotel hanging in the balance, he’s forced to choose between conjuring tricks or the woman who dragged him out of the gutter.

The question is: can he pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat where Emily is concerned?

Simple, sweet and largely effective, while there’s a lot to like about this 50-minute show, it isn’t devoid of cliché or the odd boob. For instance, you can spot the ‘magic-has-gone-out-of-our-relationship’ and ‘you-can-make-a-woman-vanish-but-how-do-you-make-her-reappear?’ type references coming a mile off. It’s a minor, if expected, quibble, granted. Still, you’d think that a well lit stage would be a key tenet in any magic show. Here, the gloom literally dims the spectacle.

Then again, it’s what you don’t see within Neto’s sleight-of-hand magic that creates the bamboozled look on people’s faces magicians love so much. To say more would spoil the surprise, but let’s just say when you think your jaw can’t drop any further, it’ll find another notch to lower to.

Warm, likeable, and full of pathos then, while it’s unlikely Neto will win any further awards for storytelling you can’t help but want his character to succeed. He might not be able to make the Statue Of Liberty disappear or travel through time, but he can touch your heart.

Run ends Friday