Magic and music – they’re similarly spelt, so it’s only natural to combine them into a show. Except Luke Closely’s Mugician is a fragmented affair – an awkward magic trick followed by a jazz song, no connection between the two. The jazz is pleasant but it’s only included as filler, as if Closely cannot muster up enough tricks for a full show.
The magic is mainly a variation around sleight of hand. Some routines masquerade in other guises—mind reading to guess a Beatles song—but they inadvertently reveal themselves to be otherwise. Bank notes become IOUs, one card is ripped apart only to transform into another. It’s nothing we haven’t seen many times before. We can often see it hiding in Closely’s back pocket.
The biggest issue with the show is the lack of showmanship. Closely is not arrogant and brash, nor does he need to be. But he needs more natural energy to get his audience on side with each trick. All too often, the end of a particular section is met with lukewarm applause because it hasn’t been built up enough.
The few moments of genuine laughter are often as a result of Closely’s conversation with a volunteer, or some sporadic off-script remarks to Simon the bass player. It is here where he is able to bounce off another instead of being isolated on stage. Perhaps Closely would be more comfortable with a jazz set, rather than conjuring up half-hearted illusions.