I love magic. Or, more accurately, I love to see a good trick done well. I like to see someone with balls the size of a rhinoceros perform something very difficult, but so subtly nobody notices, and in front of a live audience, all of whom are secretly hoping he’ll slip up. Last year I went to Vegas (read all about it here) and my favourite part was getting to see Penn and Teller live, the world’s most famous magical duo. They conjured a thousand fish out of thin air and did their famous bullet-catching trick. It was fabulous.
But incredible though the show was (and expensive, over $100), it was still a huge theatre. And although the act had been designed around a big space, there’s nothing quite like really good up-close magic, that kind that happens right under your nose and takes your breath away. (Or, in my case, induces that slack-jawed, goggle-eyed goldfish expression that repels men and makes babies cry.) And so I was really excited to book tickets for The Magic Hour, an intimate, one-man show in a beautiful old Bayswater hotel, performed by a magician called Sonic for only 36 people.
Now, I don’t want to ruin any tricks or surprises, but it was just absolutely phenomenal. Like seriously shit-the-bed sensational. The magic was as good as what I saw in Vegas and the venue is utterly beautiful. Bedecked in chandeliers and brimming over with leather-bound armchairs, the Hotel Grande Royale is very good at capturing the spirit of the show, which Sonic describes as ‘close-up conjuring and prestidigitation in the style of the Victorian masters’. Tickets include a complimentary glass of wine, so we arrived at 8pm to spend some time absorbing the atmosphere – and wine, of course – and sharpening our elbows ready to nab the front seats.
At 8:20pm we were called into the main room, which had the air of a Victorian parlour. When there are only 36 seats in the house, every one is a good one, but I’d really recommend sitting at the center-front if you can get them, or at least on the inside edge of a row. The audience is so small that almost everyone gets to participate at some point, whether choosing a card, holding an object or pinning down Sonic’s hands and feet during the ‘seance’ portion of the show (yes, really).
I would really love to tell you about the performance – seemingly impossible feats of illusion, supersonic sleight-of-hand and a very clever concept (you’ll see what I mean at the end) – but that would spoil the surprise. All I will say is that it’s the single best thing I’ve seen in London so far, and, at £25 a ticket, it’s nowhere near the most expensive. It’s also great to support independent performers; Penn and Teller are great and all, but I think they’ve done quite well enough. And you’ll never, ever see them like this.
Tickets to the Magic Hour are available online and cost £25 plus booking fee, which covers the show and a free glass of wine. With so few seats per show, they sell out fast, but at the time of writing a whole bunch has just been released, pretty much every Friday night from now until Christmas. The show is currently in residence at the Royale Grand Hyde Park, which can be found at 1-9 Inverness Terrace, W2 3JP, closest stations Queensway and Bayswater.
I always disclose relationships with PRs, but in this case I feel I’ve been so gushing I feel the need to clarify that this review was not comped, nor was I paid for it. I just thought it was genuinely fantastic. 🙂
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.