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Saturday, December 21, 2019


(Right: Russell Comrie)
An intriguing 75 minutes of entertainment, very professionally presented. (Review by Barry Meehan)

Created and performed by Russell Comrie and directed by Murray McGibbon, Mysteries – a Magic Show, is running at Seabrooke’s Theatre in Durban for a few more performances.

There can be no doubting the skill of magician Russell Comrie. He is a consummate performer and is incredibly talented as far as prestidigitation is concerned. His mentalism demonstrations, along with his illusions with coins, cards and interlocking rings are well-performed and stylish, enough to make even the most sceptical audience member believe in the magic of magic.

Where the show doesn’t quite live up to expectations – in my humble opinion – is in the pre-publicity blurb, and I quote “this one-man show explores the nature of secrets and how they shape our perception of magic, of reality, and of ourselves.” While there are a few mentions of secrets and how our minds react to the illusions of magic, this aspect is not explored in any real depth, apart from Comrie’s hints about reading body language. But as I said, that’s only my humble opinion, and the show is about magic, so let’s stick to that.

Mysteries opens with a fairly standard sleight-of-hand act, with coins appearing and disappearing into thin air, coupled with a story about a master magician and a young apprentice, which doesn’t detract from Comrie’s mastery of the trick.

Next up are volunteers pulled from the audience, who draw shapes on cards. Comrie then guesses (mainly by virtue of his study of body language) who sketched what. It’s all pretty clever stuff, and it has a great ending, with him and the last volunteer standing back to back, while he emulates what the volunteer is drawing. Unfortunately, he admitted to knowing the volunteer (and a couple of others who were on stage during the show) so it took away some of the credibility.

Comrie’s best sequence, which drew several gasps from the audience, was his demonstration of the art of the card-sharp and how cards – and even a whole pack of cards – can be manipulated almost at will, with aces appearing as if summoned to do so. Very clever, indeed.

When the audience arrives at the theatre, everyone is invited to fill in a small form with their name, date of birth, and a secret. These are then folded in quarters and placed in a glass bowl which remains on stage in full view of the audience for the duration of the performance. When it is time for the mentalism segment, Comrie selects a few folded squares from the bowl, and “reads” them without opening them. “How is it done?”, you might ask. Good question, but that is for you to figure out.

The last act on the programme is the linking rings, another standard in most magicians’ repertoires, but it is performed with style and great showmanship.

Altogether, Mysteries is an intriguing 75 minutes of entertainment, very professionally presented. The show runs until December 22 at Seabrooke’s Theatre which is situated in the Durban High School (DHS) complex in St Thomas Road, Musgrave.

Mysteries runs for three more performances – today at 14h00 for 15h00 and tonight at 18h00 for 19h00. There will be another matinee tomorrow afternoon (Sunday) at 14h00 for 15h00. Tickets R120 (R100 pp for 10 or more tickets) are available at

The show is suitable for all ages (although it is not recommended for children under ten years old, who may find it difficult to follow). – Barry Meehan

Adding to the festive spirit, Distillery 031, Durban’s premier craft spirit distillery, will be on hand before and after the show, serving craft gins and cocktails (with a smattering of non-alcoholic drinks as well)