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Review of Theatre Show: “Mind Magic” by Nique Tan

4 Jul

Reviewed by: Y.T. Ng

Even though I have been in magic for a few years, I’ve always thought Mentalism as one of the most difficult form of magic. Mentalism has the extreme ‘paradox’ of the mentalist having the audience almost believing in seemingly psychic powers, and yet, (depending on performer) still telling the audience, it is NOT something that comes of a higher power, nor is it real psychic. It is a fine line to tread, and tough. Hence I’ve never really explored the genre of Mentalism.

Because of the above reason, watching the Mind Magic show, the strength of the effect would be almost as strong to me as a layman, though I watched the other parts of the show with a keen eye of a performer. Since Red Dot Magic was not offered a ticket to review the show, this review is a fair review from someone who has purchased his own ticket for the show.

Do keep in mind; this review comprises of very personal and objective opinions of mine. While sharing them with you, you may or may not be inclined to agree with me. Having set the context of how I’m reviewing the show, let’s kick off with the review!

This is a VERY lengthy review (it was a lengthy show), so I will start off with a quick summary and details following.

What I liked about the show:

  • Fairly entertaining, especially since I’ve never thought many performers of the branch of mentalism to be ‘entertaining’
  • Had personality. Really I’d rather see someone with personality and can entertain then someone real flat presenting impossible magic. Nique wasn’t crazy strong in personality, but he was good enough. Nique was also obviously experienced from the way he handled the volunteers. He also handled the lost of his contacts near the end of the show pretty well.
  • Good audience reaction – evidently most laymen responded well to his material. Although I must admit I had the feeling that there were many friends and family in the crowd, especially since Nique picked several people he knew, even though it was random.
  • Strong Interactivity. The nature of most theatre shows are quite a one-sided thing, so the interactivity is probably fresh to most laymen.
  • No book test! This is probably the most ‘off’ point, but I personally do have this bias towards book test – seen too many, done too badly… I was really glad there was none in the show.

What I did not like about the show (much of this is a magician thing, except for the first point):

  • One MAJOR point: no one on-stage or backstage realized this, but people sitting on stage right near the stage (I was at least 6 rows or so away from the stage) could see into the backstage area, right into the changing room backstage. This happened from the second part of the show and I was hugely distracted especially since the light of the changing room was still switched on. This also meant I could see what was happening backstage…
  • Some points here and there in the individual acts left minor regrets for the strength of each act.
  • Length of the show. I found it a tad too long, it would have been better leaving the audience wanting more.
  • Production – there were some points in the act where the music came on too sudden, too loud, and the lights were a bit distracting (during Russian Roulette & Table Tipping)
  • Crew – I have no idea if this is simply because I know Jeremy, but every single time he walked in as a crew, I was distracted.

Alright, so here we go with the detailed review:

The show kicked off at 8.15pm with a quick voiceover introduction of Nique Tan, and promptly started. Having seen the show being marketed as Mind Magic, I thought that there might be some sort of introduction to what was defined as ‘Mind Magic’ but there was none of that, and the show started without much hubahoo about that.

Nique started with a ‘Baby Gag’ prediction where he predicted the celebrity that an audience member would choose, after being ‘subtly’ influenced. All this was done with an appropriate amount of humour and ‘gag’ revelation of how the effect was done. The audience volunteer was then invited up the stage where Nique revealed a prediction envelope in his pocket which was read out and revealed to be accurate. For this act, Nique requested for a lady, which left me wondering “why?”. Although so, and despite my personal predisposition to the Baby Gag, the whole act was fairly good, with Nique showing some personality, setting the mood for what was to be expected.

After the baby gag, Nique proceeded to welcome the two presidents of the local magic club who were present at the show. It felt a little strange here to be welcoming the presidents of the local magic club at a theatre show which wasn’t a ‘magicians-only’ event, and I thought it broke the flow a little. He then proceeded with a prediction chest type effect, of which the first lady volunteer was asked throughout the first half of the show to predict, number by number. This was to be his closer for the first half.

The next act was a Colin McLeod’s chair test effect, where 2 guys and 2 ladies were picked randomly to participate in. Whilst random, of the 4 volunteers, one was Danny Koh while another was Nique’s OC, whom he introduced. Each was given a role of brother, sister, mother and father, as well as a number tag. It is tough to actually dictate what happened but suffice to say that after some random mixing, Nique was able to predict the order of the volunteers. After more random mixing, he was still able to predict the colour and where each of the role that the volunteers were playing, were sitting.

I have not been exposed to many chair tests, and this was indeed a baffling effect to me. The nature of the routine meant that Nique had to choose specifically, two guys and two ladies. While the choice was random, I did not like the restrictive nature especially since the first volunteered also had to be restricted to a lady. Nevertheless, it definitely had most people (and me) baffled!

After the chair test, was a Russian Roulette with staple guns. This routine really got the crowd – the reaction was evident from the gasps when each staple gun was put to his face and, for the lack of a better word, shot. Reactions were extremely strong for the ending when he took the last staple gun, and revealed that it was the one containing the bullets. I am familiar with the premise of this routine but not familiar with the method. In my opinion, the effect would have been greatly enhanced if he had not just showed that the last staple gun was the one that contains bullets, but also could shoot out bullets and actually harm someone physically. (For eg. Shooting a balloon with that last staple gun)

Second last to go before the break was a psychometric test – a version of Larry Becker’s Sneak Thief. Four volunteers were invited onstage and given a folio where all secretly drew a drawing. The drawing were mixed up and Nique was able to read the audience’s reaction from asking them a question (all volunteers were asked to respond with the same answer, regardless if they were lying). Based on this, he was able to read which drawing belonged to whom. For the finale of the prediction, Nique upped the difficulty by even predicting the drawing that was made.

This was, in my opinion, the best routine of the night. It was THE routine that managed to showcase Nique’s personality, his humour and his quick-wit. Nique’s experience in performing also showed here, with his excellent by-play with the interesting volunteers (he happened to have a young girl who made it very entertaining because of her expression). Again a minor magician-y complaint here, that his folio which he used to draw the final drawing was brought out at the very end. It should have been out earlier together with all the folios so that his crew did not have to draw focus having the last folio brought out.

The finale before the intermission was the prediction chest which had been out the full time from the start of the second act. The first volunteer had throughout the show, predicted the amount of money that was hanging in the chest and it was finally brought down and showed to be correct, down to the cents.

This was, in actual fact, the only effect that I was extremely familiar with, but it was my least favourite effect of the night. Not sure if this would be the case for people sitting at other parts of the theatre, but one part of the prediction was way too obvious for the people sitting close to the stage on stage right. A young boy on my right actually explained the method to his mother during the intermission (Gulp). Still, Nique had great strong reactions from majority of the audience.

During intermission, the audiences were encouraged to write some personal thoughts onto a piece of paper and placed into a box that was not touched by Nique. This was to be used subsequently in the latter half of the show.

The second part of the show started off after intermission with a quick mental visualization exercise. Using this, Nique chose a volunteer onstage for a mental visualization effect. The effect was a light/ heavy chest routine originally created by Robert Houdin. Unfortunately for Nique, the effect did not work, and it ended somewhat awkwardly after fumbling three times.

During the clearing of the items on the table, his crew continued with a pre-worked gag, which I felt was awkward as the effect had not worked.

The next act was a table tipping act. In this act, quite a few volunteers were chosen up onstage to help with the act. Nique’s opening patter was somewhat strange as I thought it hard for local audience to relate and understand. That was just a minor thing however, and the effect was extremely strong. I would think most had forgotten about the first act from here. In this act, I found the music coming on way too jarringly and a little too loud, resulting of which Nique seemed to be trying to fight with the music to be heard.

Regardless, the act was very good, and it definitely got the crowd. I would think that this was possibly one of the crowd favourites of the night.

Next up was an act where Nique read the thoughts of those who had put their personal thoughts on  the little chits of paper provided, while being blindfolded with two coins and duct tape over his eyes. Nique was able to read the thoughts of a couple of people as well as their names. Nique definitely got the crowd and had good strong reactions for this effect. I could feel the audience tensing during the reading and that feeling of impossibility.

Nique prefaced this act saying that this was NOT a psychic reading, though it might feel like one. Yet in the routine, more than once he referred to reading the mind of the audience (or at least I got that implied meaning) which left myself in somewhat of a limbo state in trying to decide if I should perceive it as a psychic reading or not.  Personally, this part of the show felt the longest to me, and I thought it could have moved faster. (Or read less people’s mind instead?)

I should mention too, that immediately after this act, Nique lost his one of his contacts during the taking off of his blindfold (since it was from sticky duct tape).  He was also blinking under strong light (try going from a dark room into sunlight and you’ll get the same effect) after being effectively blind for 10-15minutes. He handled all of these pretty well though, and I’d give him some kudos for that.

The finale effect was a newspaper tear effect, which was very strong. It was no doubt a great closer for the theatre show, and from a performer point of view, was a ‘play-big’ effect with a triumphant ending (and pose). I liked this as a ‘big’ ending to the show, and thought it was a brilliant thing to have the predicted newspaper put out on a frame at the exit for people to see. In fact, I did see people peering at the newspaper as I was leaving the premise. I am sure that the finale must have had many people scratching their head at the end, I did too! The ending applause was definitely strong, and the show closed on a relatively high note.

Judging from the audience reactions, this theatre show was a success for them and most did enjoy themselves. Nique had managed to showcase his personality and magic to those in the theatre well and kudos to him for the first mentalism theatre show.

7 / 10 ESP stars