22 April 2019
Marina Johnson on a very special Magic Hour
I am gonna be hipster for a moment:
*inhales on vape*
Er actually, I saw Magic Hour: The Murder Mystery Disco, before it got selected for NSDF. It was their first run. You may not have heard about it.
...and I walked out of that show a massive fangirl. I instantly began to hyping it up to my friends. When I found out it would be at the festival I was worried about being objective. If I knew who the killer was, was the experience spoiled?
But it's all okay, because halfway through my show – which I was admiring for having tightened up and expanded since I last saw it – something rather unexpected happened. The power went out. Now, Magic Hour is the kind of show where when that happens, a good chunk of the audience was not entirely sure if it wasn't part of the show. We were united in our suspicion of this blackout, which is understandable given a character had been murdered in the last one. There was a wonderful sense of tense camaraderie as it happened.
People often wax lyrical about the ephemerality, liveness of theatre and drama; how everyone in the audience experiences a different show. This show was an extreme example of this come to life. It was clear something had gone wrong in the show, and mistakes in a show always unite an audience in clenching excitement as the illusion of the world of the performance suddenly becomes transparent – the performers can either address this, or unify to get though. Tonight was unique, unlike any night of Magic Hour before or since.
However, the show must go on! By this point the audience had worked out that this was no planned event, and that meant it is was now: IMPROV NIGHT. The cast put their experience of immersive, improvisational heavy performance skills into action to cover for the power cut. There is something exciting and absorbing about being able to look into an actor's eyes and know they are flying by the seat of their pants, but be totally unable to detect a slip or panic in their performance. Indeed, with energy, spirit and atmosphere Magic Hour stormed onwards.
The entire cast remained in character during the crisis. The cast were just as good at shifting the public around the space during the show, as during a power cut. We all piled out into the garden, but at Club de Pompidou the fun never stops. Phones and handheld torches were pulled out, laptops and speakers were grabbed. The Great Alonzo treated us all to magic in the courtyard, and the dancers taught us all a number as we all danced and sang together outside. Of course, accompanied by Totters on the kazoo. Before we all went back to the proper police work of deciding who our suspects are.
It turns out a power cut can't stop Quick Duck Theatre from putting on an electric show. The energy of the performers was infectious enough to carry us all though; the denouement more of a rock concert, than a fabulously technicolour drag night. But it was no less spectacular for it. The show may claim, “Your disco needs you”, but in the end we did not need our disco to have a party. Not when we have performers, audience, crew and helping hands all singing and dancing outside together.
Image credit: Beatrice Debney