I have always believed theatre to be a form of magic and magic shows to be a form of theatre. The Extinction Event, a piece by SEDA and Glynis Henderson Productions in association with HighTide, delivered on both. This extremely clever and slick show by Simon Evans and David Aula comes as a sequel to The Vanishing Man.
The Extinction Event takes us through magician Simon Evans’s attempt at trying to teach his new assistant Jack (Aula) to be a better magician. Simon is trying to get over his relationship with his previous partner David by focussing on his new partner Jack (who looks very similar to David). Through the jam-packed hour we are taken through familiar magic tricks with new twists, some explained, others just mindblowing.
The play asks important questions, ones that aren’t answered. How does the digital age feature in magic? How can you convince or trick someone when the answers are accessible across our platforms? Have TV shows like Sherlock ruined tricks magicians have spent years perfecting? We, the audience, become part of the story, part of the journey and are complicit in the actions of Simon and David. With what can only be described as phenomenal storytelling, both actors use the audience to deliver some of the tricks, leading us to be much more invested in the pay-off at the end.
Simon and Jack’s relationship is one we don’t often see on stage. A brotherly, platonic love between two men is heartwarming to see. Whereas some magic shows can feel impersonal, this one doesn’t. We know exactly what kind of people Simon and Jack are, and even get hints into the kind of person David was.
Evan and Aula are truly versatile performers who can adapt to anything and all kinds of work. When the audience participants mess up, they work that into the show. Each and every detail is worked out and the subtle movements in the story build to a crescendo, one that we’re all surprised by.
When producing a show with this much audience interaction, there is so much to work out. A lot of thought has clearly been put into crafting this show. And you can tell. Swift movements and great distraction techniques allow the actors to play a susceptible audience into affecting change in the characters’ lives.
The energy of the actors and the tricks match the narrative beat for beat, giving us a dramatic theatre show that could be a magic show. We leave the theatre buzzed, trying to work out how they do it.
The Extinction Event played at the Pleasance Courtyard until 27 August. For more information, click here.
Photo: Michael Wharley