The Extinction Event
Until August 27th (15:40)
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
The Pleasance Courtroom is among the larger venues at the Fringe, high and echo-ey, a perfect setting for The Extinction Event. This brand new show from David Evans and Simon Aula follows on from The Vanishing Man, which I had just attended. It’s good to see both shows, with the theme of magic running through them, but they each stand alone and both take us to the heights of good theatre. In The Extinction Event, we were told that every hour a species becomes extinct, an alarming figure that also shows that this world is a big place to be able to afford to lose so much. For the opening line we were asked to clasp our hands together with our pointing fingers up and parallel to each other. The fingers moved together and we couldn’t help but laugh.
“Magic”, they said, “is a hard thing to do in front of an audience – it’s a place where you need to learn, try things out and make mistakes, all in the interest of improving the show”. They asked how can you repair that which is broken – even using magic it can’t be done, or can it? We were shown an elastic band trick where it appeared to pass through itself and were told that the eyes see everything. We were being led into a place where the two played with our imaginations and turned it into improvisation – a fantastic leap. The double act was an integral part of the show with the continual interaction paving the way for our understanding and appreciation of magic and science
Following the original theme, the possibility of control over evolution itself was characterised as a dangerous magic, akin to the trick of catching a bullet in your mouth. We were told that the famous magician Chung Ling Soo died while attempting this superhuman feat. Very often Magicians blame their mistakes on their assistant. In hypnotism they claimed that they can help with programming a human brain. There was one instance apparently where a person was hypnotised for 8 months which I found impossible to believe. We watched as, with a touch of the shoulder and a head hung down, hypnosis was performed, but only as a joke. This was all leading up to an exercise in Improvement to show that we were all under some kind of sway, under the influence of the most complex thing in the universe – the human brain. The trick to do with mind reading was the one where you pick a number to take you to the page, another number for the paragraph and another for the word. The magician would say the phrase from the other side of the stage, displaying “true magic”, which seemed utterly believable.
We were asked to think about the process of retrieving our memories and mastering them, even going so far as to raise the dead. And again we are brought round to the trick of catching a bullet in your mouth which is intended to be about death, to achieve the ultimate of cheating it in front of a packed audience. It seemed as if the whole show was leading up to the moment when at last they did the trick. Bang, the gun goes off, David falls to the floor, there’s blood, he screams. What had happened? Had they really gone and done it…? Magic is enjoyed across the globe. Countless finely tuned tricks have audiences in awe and believing the impossible. The idea is to know what to believe – and if you get yourself down to the Pleasance you may find out, and be thoroughly bamboozled, intrigued and entertained in the process.