Jamie Allan: iMagician

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in Reviews | 0 comments

imagicianIsaac Newton wrote, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. The same modest message is conveyed by Jamie Allan in his magic show, which is framed almost as a presentation about the Evolution of Magic. Building on all that is noble and life-enhancing from the past couple of centuries of magical tradition, Jamie is creating up-to-the-minute magic, based on the sound principles established by Robert-Houdin, Devant, Houdini and the other giants of yesteryear.

In keeping with David Devant’s motto All Done By Kindness, Jamie treats all his volunteers gently and with respect. Moreover, he explicitly states that his purpose is not to fool us as such but to recreate for us that sense of wonder we used to experience as children. Far from throwing down a gauntlet – or even showing off – Jamie offers his magic to the audience as a gift.

Although the show is slick in the sense that it’s well thought-out and smoothly and elegantly executed, there is a slightly unpolished quality to Jamie himself which beautifully reinforces the impression that, instead of sitting in a huge theatre, we are joining him at a private party, such as the ones at which Eisenheim the Illusionist used to entertain (see The Illusionist film).

As Arthur C. Clarke pointed out, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. If your audience comes from a different culture, where the type of technology you’re using is little known, of course this gives you an enormous advantage. This was the situation exploited by the 19th-century French magician known as the father of modern conjuring, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin (read the novel The Magician’s Wife for details), but the difficulty in most cases is that the audience is as familiar with technology as the magician is. In my interview with him, John van der Put mentioned the challenge posed by trying to engage spectators by performing the impossible in an age when the impossible is commonplace:

You find the four of diamonds and everyone goes crazy. Then their phone rings and it’s someone from the other side of the planet and they’re like, “Yeah”. You go to the supermarket and the door opens automatically. You find a deck of cards in your shadow and everyone freaks out. I’m interested in that dynamic.

Jamie Allan addresses this by making it clear he’s using technology because – and in the same way as – everyone else does. He’s using it to create 21st-century magic with what have become everyday objects. Not that every effect involves a smartphone, an iPad or social media; there’s plenty of low-tech magic too, with newspapers, rope and even playing cards.

The show includes a wide variety of tricks and illusions, from sleight of hand through manipulation to stage classics such as assistant in a zigzag box and sawing a woman in half. I always enjoy watching a person being cut in two and Jamie’s version is as open and transparent as you’ll find. Having seen a great many box illusions in my time, however, I’m rarely excited by them any more, but Jamie’s made me sit up and take notice. Old favourites like the silks and candles routine figure, alongside feats of mentalism and a stunning display in which laser beams apparently defy the laws of physics. In tribute to Houdini, the evening ends with a stirring bit of escapology.

The iMagician tour runs until 31st May and perhaps beyond. Jamie is an extremely accomplished magician, who has performed for corporate clients at the highest level: don’t miss the chance to see him for yourself. Whether you’re always on Twitter or don’t know how to send an email, I believe you’ll enjoy this show.