For theatre... online, non-professional, amateur
Kevin Quantum Eyes Shut Eyes Open

Kevin Quantum Eyes Shut Eyes Open

Magic has enjoyed something of a welcome rebirth over the last few years, particularly at the Edinburgh Fringe. It was good, therefore, to see some magicians among the performers at the London Wonderground, and Kevin Quantum’s Eyes Open Eyes Shut kept an audience of all ages engrossed and entertained in the purple cow on a very wet afternoon.

His is an engaging and sometimes low-key persona and it takes a while for an audience to warm to him, but by the end of the show they had certainly done so. As a one-time scientist, Kevin takes an appropriately scientific approach and presents what is in some ways a highly entertaining but educative lecture about magic and its basic principles. He does so, of course, without in any way betraying the secrets – or at least only those he can then undercut by adding an unexpected twist.

Rather than large scale illusions, the show is based mainly on sleight of hand and misdirection, and he is extremely talented at both. The show has been carefully crafted with various ideas or events cunningly planted early on, and then leading to later results. The easy chat with the audience (including a quick impromptu aside in Russian to a group at the front) creates a relaxed atmosphere so that it becomes easier to fool people – and then tell them how they have been fooled.

The silent opening routine with sand, water and changing colours seemed to belong to a different show however, impressive though it was, and the audience definitely preferred the later conversational approach and the use of everyday objects. He is adept at getting the best from audience volunteers without in any way belittling them, and whether they were adults or children. Good as it was, the show would probably also benefit from a director who could get more response from some of the stunning reveals which did not always receive the applause they deserved – or maybe it was just a damp, slow audience.

Essentially a metamagic show, Eyes Open Eyes Shut is a fascinating hour with highlights being the (apparently explained but not really) cup and ball routine and the final reveal linked to the photo everyone took on their phones – the content of which it would not be fair to mention.

Catch Kevin Quantum if you can, on tour or at the Edinburgh International Magic Festival ( this winter.



Austentatious, the Jane Austen-style improve troupe, are regulars in the upside-down purple cow at Underbelly Edinburgh, so it was good to see them following that bizarre performance venue to its current home at the London Wonderground in Earl’s Court. The format hasn’t changed, some of the cast were familiar (no names were provided), and they even had a backdrop.

As usual, we were greeted by the supposed Austen academic who reminded us of all the many lost Austen novels and asked us to call out the titles of some of them so they could choose one to enact. After considering Wuthering Prejudice (written on a variety of different papers that decompose as you read them) and Swipe and Swipeability (about which the less said the better), the decision was made to settle on Toast and Toastability, set as it turned out in an early incarnation of the Warburton’s bread factory.

The five performers, together with their inventive accompanist, told the story of two sisters, one of whom, Clarissa (sometimes known as Celeste) had never left her home. Despite this, love letters were arriving from Mr Warburton and we were soon taken to his bread factory. Taking place in Norfolk and Derby, as well as in a rather dubious layby on the A45, the narrative took some bewildering turns and was skilfully guided especially by the more experienced members of the troupe. They did this by signalling scene ends to each other or sudden flashbacks (or flash-forwards) but mostly by their experience of working together allowing them to know where a plot development might be leading – although the occasions on which they were surprised were often the highlights.

All the cast were more than up to the task, steeped in the Jane Austen style and able to include in their story everything from Covid hand-washing to non-disclosure agreements, not to mention a very, very tiny horse. The extent to which that horse became real for the audience, and indeed became a character in the story, was a tribute to the use of deft mime by this group, not just to tell the story but also to add to the gags.

It is remarkable how funny this group can be, even after so many shows, and this must be an indication of how much the Austen style is understood by British audiences of all ages. A full house certainly enjoyed Toast and Toastability and I am sure many of them will be back for more.

  • : admin
  • : 21/08/2021