Trading stunt illusions for stage magic, the boy from Bradford conjures up a stripped-back show
‘Magic is about connection,’ says Dynamo – AKA Bradford magician Steven Frayne – in the second half of tonight’s show. The 32-year-old illusionist has grabbed headlines for his big stunt trickery: walking on the River Thames, floating beside a double-decker bus, levitating at the top of the Shard… But his first ever theatre tour is a far more intimate affair, connecting personally with his diehard fans.
He half manages it. ‘Seeing Is Believing’ features a handful of spectacular feats of magic. But Frayne isn’t a natural showman, and his stiff, fumbled delivery prevents his tricks from truly connecting. There’s plenty of audience interaction, but Frayne comes across as a slightly impatient schoolteacher, asking punters to hurry up as he feels the momentum dropping.
Without giving too much away, the show is a mix of intricate, close-up sleight-of-hand (broadcast to the 3,500-strong crowd on large screens) and bigger stage illusions that can’t quite match up to the TV stunts. Sure, the boy wizard levitates in a crucifix pose to an atmospheric soundtrack, but it only receives a muted response from tonight’s audience.
You could say Dynamo’s slightly shot himself in the foot. He mentions the walking on water trick several times, as if to remind us what he can really do outside of the constraints of a theatre, but he rarely achieves those big, awe-inspiring moments live on stage.
It’s Frayne’s simpler mindreading feats that receive the biggest gasps. A neat ‘connection test’ between siblings leaves the audience puzzled, and a seemingly throwaway attempt to guess a movie title turns into a grand, multi-illusion routine. He’s a skilled card magician, too, but showing off detailed card manipulations feels slightly pointless in a venue this size.
Linking the tricks together is a biographical story about Frayne’s childhood obsession with magic, animated on screen like a moving comic book. And while Dynamo’s superpowers aren’t quite as impressive as on the telly, he certainly has some neat tricks up his sleeve.