Home Theatre, Manchester; Wednesday 29th November 2017
“So here’s how it works: we don’t know the audience and the audience don’t know us. We’ll make this play where we repeat the same thing again and again and again, and they have to guess what we’re on about.”
This tanked. Really badly and really early – about 5 minutes in, or roughly by the start of the third iteration of the attempted-comedy-scene-from-hell.
There is very little that can be said about Real Magic. Given that the entire ninety minutes of this show is built around it, any attempt to describe the content or form of the attempted-comedy-scene-from-hell will simply be a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t seen it.
The three on-stage players each put in commendable performances, the acting was strong and intense, there is little more that they could have done and their delivery on the stage can not be faulted.
Real Magic is a disastrous failure of concept and structure, the show is terrifyingly dependent on the formation of an instant and intimate connection with the audience. This would be the same kind of connection that you’d need to make within seconds of turning up on a first date; or perhaps with the first words that you might say in a job interview. But in this case there was no such early spark and, as a result, the evening got worse and worse as the show went on.
Of course there is a chance that inducing boredom, incredulity, anger and disbelief is exactly what was intended by those who devised this play. But that would just be commercial insanity: “Let’s break new ground and challenge perceptions of what theatre is by doing something that no one else will dare to try: let’s deliberately bore the audience with a monotonous repetition of the same thing for an hour and a half”.
Forced Entertainment is the name of the production company, and an attempt to force entertainment is exactly what was delivered.
Nothing could have verified the failed-first-date awkwardness more than the solemn expressions on the faces of the cast as they took their bows at the end. They lost the audience early and I sense they knew it.