About Me

My Photo
Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
View my complete profile


Blog Archive

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Theatre review: A Salute to the Great Lafayette

Published in The Scotsman


WHEN you're in a theatre with a notebook, people commonly ask if you are a critic. Saturday was the first time anyone's asked if I were a magician. It seemed an unlikely idea until headline act Paul Daniels got the magicians in the audience to stand up. There were loads of them.
They were there not only to see Daniels pay tribute to the Great Lafayette, the illusionist who died when a fire consumed this very stage on 9 May, 1911, but also for a whole weekend of magic-related activities.

So, yes, it's not inconceivable I could have been making notes to figure out how Daniels got the ball beneath the cup and how the ball turned into a lemon. A scholar of magic would also have been studying the illusions he dusted down to evoke the era of the Great Lafayette.
Crediting the magician Fred Culpitt, he made an assistant appear in the middle of an empty doll's house. Name-checking Harry Houdini, he added a Scottish flourish to the substitution trick, ending up in a different part of the theatre to the sound of Scotland the Brave. In a grim memorial to the events of a century ago, he lay in a burning coffin and ended up as a charred skeleton.

The lovely Debbie McGee hammed it up ?and the audience shouted out Daniels's catchphrase for him. It was cheesy, old-school stuff, in an amiable kind of way – with the best saved till last. In the middle of a card trick, Daniels's two audience volunteers were suddenly propelled from their seats, then just as mysteriously stuck to them. That was no illusion. That was actual voodoo.

© Mark Fisher 2011

More coverage at

Sign up for theatreSCOTLAND updates

Sign up for theatreSCOTLAND discussion

No comments: