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Barry and Stuart -- 98% séance

Last year, as I wandered aimlessly and pennilessly around at the Fringe, there was one show in particular that I was loath to miss. This was Barry and Stuart doing something to do with magic. (If you break with tradition and follow the link and look around I am sure you will find something entertaining and weird.)

I have, at random intervals, been regretting my lack of attendance during the last year, and so one of the things I insisted we do when Tor sat there with all his money and wanted to know what we should spend it all on was that we go see these two strapping, well-dressed, friendly-looking gentlemen and their spirit-conjuring. The excuse I used was that what I am working on at the moment is vaguely related to spiritualism, and so it would almost be like studying on a night out. A blatant lie, of course; but Tor was kind enough to not point it out.

And blatant lies, of course, is the whole point of the exercise. As these two made sure to tell us. 98% séance is rather an overstatement, thankfully. I wouldn't have it any other way. Any real attempt to convince people you are talking to the spirits of the deceased is tacky at best and downright [something bad] most of the time. Being honest about the dishonesty and poking fun at spiritualism is the only way to go. And they did it masterfully. And that is really all I can tell you because they told us not to reveal what they did. And seeing as they clearly have powerful magicks at their command....

It must be said that a magic show is really not the natural place for Tor and me, the main reason for this being the dreaded monstrosity (much more scary than any suggested demon or ghost), Audience Participation. It is an integral part of the attempt to show that no trickery is at work, and while I understand that the desire to show that one can circumvent the use of stooges requires some sort of random selection, the horror of having things thrown randomly around the room while knowing that if it lands anywhere near you you may be required to talk to the spirits is almost beyond endurance. I would much rather have been tickled behind the ear by an ectoplasm spider. I think.

Fortunately we escaped the horror unharmed and could spend most of the show (98%?) leisurely enjoying the entertaining explanations and unlooked-for punchlines (and it did not hurt the show that at least one of them had a lovely Scottish accent). And did I mention they were well dressed?

When asked (and prodded and poked) for his opinion, Tor said:

Det var ganske morsomt og ganske kult. Men det irriterer meg litt at de sier det er tull og så sier de ikke hvordan det er tull, for jeg kunne tenke meg å vite det. Det irriterer meg ikke egentlig, bare sånn litt.
(It was quite funny and quite cool. But it annoys me a little that they say it is trickery and then they don't say how it is worked, because I would rather like to know. It doesn't really annoy me, only a little.)

While one or two things were explained at the beginning, most of the rest of the show kept its secrets to itself. Calcuttagutta's intrepid (how long can I call myself that before it gets old?) thinks she has figured out most of it, but there is still one major part of the show we cannot quite explain. It really is a little annoying. We've figured out how it started, but not how it was worked to the end. Dreadfully annoying. But that is all I can say on the subject (furious armies of Beelzebub under their control and that sort of thing). Except they told us we could buy another ticket if we wanted to work it out. I am not sure I have the money for that, and come to think of it they may be sold out by now, but it is a little tempting.

I will state proudly for the record that I did not scream once. Nor did Tor.


Tor,  14.08.10 18:45

I'm quite proud that I figured out the first trick before they revealed it.

However, take a thing like the exploding glass. This was not a major part of the show, but still, I find things like this to be inherently dissappointing. Essentially, they placed a glass on a table, put a perspex cube over it so nothing could touch it, and a bit later, the glass exploded. While I don't know exactly how that happened, it obviously wasn't magic, so presumably there was some technical gizmo in the table. And that might be very clever and all, but it is still only a technical question.

The other stuff was good, though, and quite funny as well. Not a bad combo.
Camilla,  30.08.10 00:59

Jeg tror at dersom man er interessert i hvordan ting blir gjort kan man få en del forklart hvis man får tak i Joseph McCabes Is Spiritualism Based On Fraud? fra 1920. Jeg har bare lest hans historiske oversikt over fenomenet, men han snakker der om at han tar for seg teknikkene i denne andre boken.