I was a little nervous before attending my first ever Toronto Fringe Festival performance. But I should not have worried. Even though I went to the show alone, Keith Brown’s engaging Lil Theatre Co production, Absolute Magic, at the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival felt like being at great party with good friends. I found myself laughing and smiling the whole time.Keith Brown opens his show by saying that magic opens the door to opportunity, creativity, and infinite possibility. It also is a way to create relationships. Within minutes, Keith (and I do feel like I should use his first name) was creating personal connections with the audience. In fact, the audience is really at the centre of the performance.
Absolute Magic was truly interactive with lots of audience participation. Do not think you are safe just because you are not in the front row. Keith involved people from all over the theatre space. Sometime he brought them up on stage. Sometimes he just borrowed their cell phone. But he always asked their name and encouraged the rest of the audience to applaud their efforts.
This is not a highly produced show with flaming swords or a beautiful lady in a sparkling costume being sawed in half. Just a bare space with a video screen, a card table, and a suitcase. The magic is up close and personal, featuring everyday objects like playing cards, cell phones, and cans of cider. Keith’s funny stories and home movies all contribute to the sense of intimacy and familiarity.
I did not miss the flash though. I was too busy being amazed by Keith’s skill. He is really good. I know. I know. Magic is just misdirection and sleight of hand. But try as I might, I could not catch him in the act or figure out how he did his tricks. The rest of the audience seemed equally astonished, gasping and cheering with each magical exploit.
When introducing his last trick, Keith showed some photographs and medical images from a hospital stay after the trick went wrong last summer. They are pretty graphic and gross. If that kind of thing disturbs you, look away during that part. Open your eyes again once the trick starts though. You do not want to miss it.
Final verdict, Absolute Magic definitely merits a spot on your Fringe schedule. I am still trying to figure out how he did that stuff.
- Absolute Magic plays at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace. (30 Bridgman Ave)
- Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought or from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warning: Audience Participation.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- Wednesday June 29th, 08:00 pm
- Friday July 1st, 10:15 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 01:00 pm
- Monday July 4th, 06:30 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 09:00 pm
- Friday July 8th, 01:45 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 05:15 pm
Photo of Keith Brown with unidentified audience member by Tisse Mallon