"Perfect cocktail Victorian modern magic"
by Rachel Knightley for remotegoat on 03/10/15

The magic of Tony Middleton’s show extends beyond his excellent material and effortless command of the stage to exquisite atmosphere, slick stagecraft and a delicious sense of fun. Introducing himself both by his stage name of Sonic but also by his real name, Middleton strikes the perfect balance for the modern audience: straightforward acknowledgement that what we will see is all illusion (with just the right hint of “or is it?”), and traditional, deft showmanship letting us safely and willingly suspend our disbelief.
This beautifully orchestrated, atmospheric Victorian-style magic show takes place in the ideal surroundings of the hotel drawing room, lighting and set dressing to suggest how such a magic show might have taken place at the time. The period set dressing has props and detail that continue to mix the traditions of Victorian magic with twists of modernity.
Middleton’s charming command of proceedings is supported by brilliantly timed sound and light operation, which was slick when we were meant to notice it and even slicker when we weren’t. The ‘magic’, then, is not trickery in the sense of an attempt to fool anyone; the audience are in on the joke, so feel safe, included and free to be amazed. One trick, early on in the first act, is taught after it is performed. The illusion which he second half works up to, however, is left tantalizingly open.
The premium ticket price includes a ‘magic cocktail’ in the theatre bar – both bar and cocktail were gorgeous – and gifts including a pack of cards and DVD teaching the traditional tricks. It’s a wonderfully immersive, warm and genuinely individual night out and, while the price will be a barrier for many, it still will not dissuade me from recommending it to every theatregoer and non-theatregoer I know. A perfect cocktail of theatre and magic, Victorian tradition and modern sensibility.

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