Tom Brace arrives at Brighton following a sellout show at the Edinburgh Fringe. His name carries weight, as The Hat (the largest venue at The Warren) was nearly sold out when I went to see him.
With arena style seating, you are looking down upon a stage littered with tables presenting various magic apparatus, as well as a briefcase suspended in the air, which was quickly identified as the box of danger.
Despite the promise of danger, in many ways, Tom’s show is safe and will be familiar to anyone who has seen a magic show before. Between making a phone disappear and reappear, guessing the animal someone was thinking of, and a levitating table, there wasn’t really anything new on display – although Tom’s energy and charisma kept things moving apace.
Tom brilliantly handled some exceptionally enthusiastic audience members he chose for participation. Magic is universal, but trying to explain what you want someone to do when English isn’t their first language must be challenging. Nevertheless, Tom dealt with it well and managed to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat without a hitch.
Tom’s show is family friendly and, I would argue, geared specifically towards children. As with most family shows, Tom keeps it clean but slips in the occasional ‘joke for the adults’. Strangely though, mid-way through, Tom suddenly seemed to get more brazen with his euphemistic humour. It would certainly still fly above the heads of children, but it was a notable shift in tone that seemed unwarranted.
In a world where the internet ruins all the best things, magicians are fighting an uphill battle to amaze audiences spoilt by trick 'breakdowns' which explain the magic away. They need to constantly find ways to reinvent the wheel, and if they are going to present classic tricks, they need to be dressed up as something new and exciting.
Charisma and enthusiasm prop up this show, and while it’s clear Tom Brace is adept at magic, the tricks felt slightly pedestrian. Nonetheless, the audience enjoyed themselves, and children in particular will love the show. It’s not difficult to see Tom Brace's show as a gateway for the next generation to discover magic for the first time.
Tickets and more information can be found on the Brighton fringe website.