The Journey Review – A Refined Magic Show in Search of Deeper Meaning | Theater
Jhe joy of a magic trick is in the moment. The magician defies the rules of physics and we are amazed. Usually that’s it. Unless it’s Derren Brown making us doubt our very perception of the world, the stuff no longer makes sense. Quickly, we move on.
You get the impression that Scott Silven wants to change that. On one level, his online show, created for life under lockdown and enjoying a virtual international tour, is a series of clever tricks for reading minds. Performing in front of a live audience on a Zoom-like interface, he seems to know our thoughts before we do and has predicted numbers, names and images before the show even begins.
He’s adept at misdirection, making every turn the product of chance strangers meeting online. You’ve seen this sort of thing before, but it does it in style and keeps you guessing. What it stretches for, however, is something more resonant.
Working with playwright Rob Drummond, he tells the story of a return to his native Scotland, wandering through a romantic Highland landscape of abandoned crofts, hilltop cairns and vast glens. Reconnecting with his childhood self, Silven reflects on his relationship with the rest of the world.
In this context, the tricks that connect the online audience are a metaphor for our connectedness. “We are always together in time and space,” he says.
It’s a nice sentiment for the Covid era, even if it means we’re bound together by some supernatural force rather than just a desire to be around the pub. Even that idea is undermined knowing he’s using sleight of hand, not actual magic. Is he saying we’re bound by trickery?
However, not much is apparent at the moment, not least because it’s such a polished production. Staged in a room that looks like a chic modern art gallery, with its plinths, stones and frames, Allie Winton Butler’s production is a whirlwind of projections and music, the audience superimposed on the walls and windows as needed. It’s a technical marvel that, in combination with storytelling and magic, creates the illusion of a deeper meaning at play.