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Published December 4th 2017
Sydney's Magician In Residence
Every weekend in Sydney, A Magical Soiree takes place in the auspicious private members' venue, The Royal Automobile Club of Australia, located on historical Macquarie Street. You would expect only a classy affair would be in residency here, and so is the case with The Gentleman Magician and his very special magic show.
A Magical Soiree holds residency at The Royal Automobile Club of Australia, RACA
Since 2015, Bruce Glen has been an Associate, Silver Star-member of The Inner Magic Circle, a British organisation for the advancement of the art of magic. It might sound like something out of Hogwarts but it is indeed a real club. The honour bestowed on Glen is highly respected in his professional community.
After having been a part of one of his Friday night soirees, I can see that The Gentleman Magician has been recognised for his talents as a traditionalist. His unique brand of showmanship, storytelling and sleight of hand, hearkens back to the golden years of Houdini and even further back to the days of magic performed in the salons of 19th-Century Europe.
Bruce Glen, The Gentleman Magician, and event host, Katherine
Today's audiences are far more sophisticated, with television programmes giving us insights into the tricks behind the tricks, but if you suspend disbelief and remain open to it, magic can still surprise and delight. Drawing on the beauty and history of the salon in which his show takes place, Bruce Glen rejects the bells and whistles of modern-day TV illusionists and even some of the more daring and grandiose tricks of the great Houdini. His success is in his appeal for his target audience: - mature patrons who appreciate hospitality with finesse, good storytelling, humour and a warm approach. Glen's tricks are slick, intelligent and entertaining.
On arrival to the venue, guests are invited to enter the magical salon from 7pm, welcomed by Glen's friendly host and performance assistant, Katherine. The audience is kept at a maximum of 70, to recreate that intimate-feel of a 19th-Century drawing room. They are offered a complimentary glass of fine bubbly and a generous supply of canapes. On my visit, these included zucchini flower, bite-size spring rolls and turkey frittata. Delicious and a nice touch, which adds to the genteel quality of the experience.
The Gentleman Magician's display pays tribute to Houdini
Guests are then seated for The Gentleman Magician's arrival at 7.33pm (must be a magician's superstition!). The next 70 minutes is a flowing procession of 10 themed tricks, woven together with Glen's easy performance style, humour, charm and interesting tales of the days of magic and Sydney's past. Mature audiences and history lovers will value this different approach to a magic show, which combines elements of cabaret with sleight of hand, card tricks, old-fashioned con-jobs and psychic feats.
Particularly impressive was the magician's set called 'The Imaginary Psychic'. In this part of the show, Glen does his own Penn and Teller-style debunking of a magic myth. In this case, it is psychic ability. Through a clever routine and well-executed tricks, Glen shows that 'the art' of psychic readings can be learned, like anything else. It is a trick of skill, rather than a gift from the gods. With fun audience participation, The Gentleman Magician draws the crowd in and skilfully weaves his web of intrigue.
The Gentleman Magician welcomes audience participation
Short and sweet, Glen's show ends with a strong trick of conjuring, drawing on the haunted reputation of the heritage building of the RACA. He leaves the audience wanting more, which is always the sign of a good showman.
The Gentleman Magician has become something of a Sydney institution and though not the most awe-inspiring magic you will ever see, it is an entertaining evening for a special occasion, a gift experience, or an opportunity to entertain overseas guests. The show is recommended for audiences 15 years and over. For me as a reviewer, the location, club dress code and style of performance, is best suited to forty years plus. It's an intelligent, rather than a flashy show and at a price point that would generally exclude very young or student audiences.
There's nothing wrong with this and it reinforces Bruce Glen's understanding of his niche. He's not trying to compete with magic's up and comers. He is experienced, recognised by his peers and provides a one-of-a-kind, resident performance for Sydneysiders ... and appreciators of gentlemanly manners.