The ExtinctionEvent

Wed 1st – Mon 27th August 2018


Thomas Goodyer

at 18:24 on 18th Aug 2018



Magic is not sleight of hand or misdirection, but a work of imagination. For this reason, says Simon Evans to David Aula, human’s are different from machines; imagination, and therefore magic, is a Darwininian imperative, ineluctably wound up with the avoidance or the cheating of death. And that is the theme of ‘The Extinction Event.’

The narrative, which acts as a sequel to their other show this year, ‘The Vanishing Man,’ unfolds masterfully: each complex time jump, each shade of information or misinformation, each alteration in the two characters’ power dynamic scythes gracefully towards the finale. It is a drama, a magic show, a deconstruction of a magic show, a philosophical investigation. It is, to be honest, really good. To write something so complex, to give something as trite and potentially clichéd as magic, high stakes and humour suggests a monumental amount of effort and talent.

But it is not just the sheer amount of work put into the show (don’t forget they are doing a second one too), but the slickness with which it is executed. Both actors performed their parts with authority and intelligence. We got a very well realised idea of the characters’ relationship, its depths, competitiveness and compassion brought out with equal subtlety. Likewise, they used the audience really well, which makes the ingenuity of the play more special, given the unpredictability of the public.

The only problem is that with such maximalism, it is easy for things to get left by the way side, with some of the parts not developing quite as much as it seems like they should. This is not a major problem; it comes more from the fact the expectation is put there in the first place, by the way the characters talk about the action, than the actual way it plays out. ‘The Extinction Event’ is still one of the cleverest stage shows I’ve seen this Fringe.


Hugh Kapernaros

at 10:59 on 19th Aug 2018



'The Extinction Event' at the Courtyard is David Aula and Simon Evans’ companion to the well-received 'The Vanishing Man'. Both are sophisticated magic shows incorporating theatre, drama and some poignant contemporary ideas. The classical magician’s routine is reworked and revamped, parodied and challenged. Performers engage with the legacy of illusion work and critique what magic really means. Call it meta-magic, if you will; it’s as interesting as it is exciting.

Magic in the digital age of reason is the central theme of the show. How can you make someone believe something when the truth is just a few taps away on their phone? Can we program human brains like computers? The magical assistant tries to break his partner away from personal illusions of denial and grief, leading him into acceptance of a late friend and ultimately outdoing his discerning superior in a finale that brought the various bits of magic throughout the show together beautifully.

Showmanship is a major element of their act, both Aula and Evans hold excellent stage presence, combining old-world “roll up! roll up!” theatricality with modern comedic stylings. Their “illusions” - the word “tricks” I understand to be a magicians pet peeve - are neither cheesy nor trashy. Everything is done quite subtly, they’re not dependent on massive wow’s from the audience, nor are they after any jaw-drops. While this can be slightly disappointing if you like that type of show, which I confess I do, 'The Extinction Event' is more of a holistic performance than it is a showcase of sleight of hand.

While the new adaption of a classic magic show is timely, if not needed to keep things fresh, the performance was occasionally let down by ramblings about technology and confusing back stories - the complex narrative meant lots in the audience were still considering philosophical ideas when the “a-ha!” moments finally came, thereby leaving some illusions to flop. All the meta-magic chat meant that, while the magicians never revealed their secrets, they had me thinking about them - engaging as opposed to muting my inner cynic. This might have been the point; I’m not too sure, but it slightly detracted from my overall enjoyment.

Although a little tedious and confusing in parts, this is an undeniably sophisticated and well-thought out production. For a magic show that gets you thinking just as much as it leaves you wowed, go and check out 'The Extinction Event' at the Pleasance Courtyard.


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