Evolution of Magic

Horseshoe, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool

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Elizabeth Best
Craig Christian

How many British seaside summer shows can boast a Hollywood A-lister as their host?

Look no further than Blackpool to find Morgan Freeman—no less—introducing and occasionally linking the segments of this spirited and energetic entertainment. He appears by video, of course, but that’s all part of the “tech-fuelled magic” that this show boasts. It’s the seventh year in a row it’s occupied the perfect setting of this custom-designed cabaret lounge, beneath the amusement park’s cornerstone Casino landmark.

As the Horseshoe Showbar, it was the venue that used to house the annual Mystique cabarets, helping launch the careers of the likes of Bradley Walsh. It’s also been the setting for the British magical championships, so easily comes into its own for this quickfire 90 minutes of old-style conjuring and sorcery, but delivered in a contemporary gothic-punk style. Pinpoint lighting, swirling smoke and plenty of shade add to the atmosphere, even if the thumping techno backing track could do with some occasional relief.

The Horseshoe shape lends itself to the intimacy of the close-up magic that occupies much of the first half of the show. In case anyone misses a trick, live video beams it all to two giant screens either side of the stage. Whether with cards or coins, Craig Christian is a master of sleight of hand, even with a camera lurking over his shoulder.

He’s partnered on stage with Elizabeth Best, whose haunting routines got her to the semi-finals of TV’s Britain’s Got Talent. Here, her magic ranges from a form of Russian Roulette—with a broken bottle—to the kind of audience-roaming psychological trickery that Derren Brown showcases. An apparently random mind-reading feat, that eventually involves every member of the audience, is truly boggling.

Naturally, it all leads up to the classic cutting of a lady in half, but even this is done with a fiery and lop-sided twist, while the show’s climax is a confetti-strewn delight set to Rhianna’s "Diamonds".

Finally, a sluggish audience showed their appreciation for a hard-working and thoroughly dynamic duo.

Reviewer: David Upton

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