Edinburgh International Magic Festival 2011
Paul Wilson and Xavier Mortimer among highlights of second annual festival
Eyes may have been rolled and fezzes shrugged last year when yet another Edinburgh International X Festival was announced (‘we’ll like this,’ residents thought, ‘but not a lot’). However, magician Kevin McMahon, now presiding over his second year as director of the Edinburgh International MagicFest, was cheerily undaunted.
‘Edinburgh is perfect for the Festival because it’s the UK’s most magical city,’ he says, doffing his top hat to JK Rowling and Harry Potter. ‘The popularity of magic has grown dramatically in recent years: people like Derren Brown and David Blaine have really moved it into the 21st century. Until last year, though, there were no UK magic festivals where you could see multiple, quality magic shows in a programmed event.’
After the success of last year’s Festival, McMahon and his team have put together a programme twice as big as last time, which still aims to thrill audiences while not taking itself too seriously. Celebrity magicians like The Real Hustle’s slight-of-hand-meister Paul Wilson rub shoulders with up-and-coming acts like skinny-tied magic man Xavier Mortimer. There are comedy magic shows (we’re sort of tempted by ‘Card Ninja’ Javier Jarquin), dinner galas, a Magic School for kids and something a little worrying called a ‘Ladies Only Psychic Party’. McMahon’s own show Would Lafayette Wow the iPad Generation? examines whether the tricks of the Great Lafayette would still wow crowds entranced by their iPhones. A highlight in this boys’ club is an appearance by Romany (pictured), one of the UK’s only professional female wizards.
‘There are so few female magicians due to a real lack of role models,’ says the self-styled Diva of Magic. ‘It’s boys that get given magic sets for Christmas. I didn’t even consider it until I took a performance evening class.’
‘Magic is changing its identity right now,’ says McMahon. ‘There are many talented and inventive performers all over the world creating a new exciting vision for it as an art form that will evolve magic, in the same way that Cirque du Soleil has changed our view of circus.’
Edinburgh International MagicFest, 1–8 Jul, various venues, Edinburgh. www.magicfest.co.uk