Darcy Oake: Edge of Reality @ The York Barbican Review

Darcy Oake really knows how to put on a show. The atmosphere is instantly created with literal smoke and mirrors and a short video in which Oake shows off his illusory tricks. It’s no surprise that Oake did so well during his time on Britain’s Got Talent, as there are clear signs of similar hype techniques used in both shows. This kind of melodramatic build up can really work up the crowd, but not half as effectively as when Oake does take to the stage and delivers a quick succession of impressive dove tricks.

Darcy Oake

Oake’s show combines close up magic with some breathtaking larger set pieces, using cameras and projection screens to ensure every seat in the house has equal opportunity to see his mastery of magic. His skill with subversion nicely complements Oake’s natural comic tone. It’s his easy-going attitude and quick jokes with audience members that really wins the audience round and makes the show. The ease with which Oake carries out his show only makes the reveal in his tricks all the more entertaining: it’s amazing to see just how effortless he can make his magic appear. In contrast to this, his more dramatic set pieces strike a slightly different chord. Whilst the much larger illusion pieces within the show need a different approach in presentation than his quick close-up magic, Oake could benefit from giving these pieces less of an elongated build up. The audience can see how impressive an illusion will be without being told, and in taking time out to describe the set piece the pacing of the show can falter somewhat.

Oake’s show comes complete with his own entourage, a gang of assistants who adapt well to his sense of humour with excellent pay off. Without any dialogue, each member of the team brings a certain character to the show and it’s charming to see them working with (or against) Oake. These little subtleties appeal on a universal level, whereas the smoke, mirrors, and sexy soundtrack might find themselves splitting crowds between those who enjoy the larger-than-life build up seen on Saturday night TV and those who are there to be wowed solely by the skill of the show.

Oake tells the audience at the beginning of the show that there are two types of people: sceptics and believers. Watching Oake’s natural charisma and slick illusory skills, I can’t deny I’m a definite believer in the face of his highly entertaining magic showcase. However, when it comes to the excess of build up and explanations I can’t help feeling like a sceptic, any emotional wealth not really overpowering the sense that these segments are clearly being used as filler between stage re-sets and larger tricks. Really what this show could benefit with is more tricks and less filler, but it’s understandable that such a large show needs time to prepare for the showstopper pieces- and believe me, the last trick really is a showstopper and a half. Oake is well worth a watch, although the excess of theatrics might not be everybody’s cup of tea. 3/5

Review written by Louise Jones.

Darcy Oake: Edge of Reality was shown at the York Barbican on Thursday 24th September. Darcy Oake is currently touring his show around the UK, for dates, visit here…

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