The Sir Stamford Hotel at Circular Quay. 93 Macquarie Street, Sydney. Every Friday and Saturday evening at 7.30pm.
Reviewed : 15 February, 2019
Bruce Glen, the Gentleman Magician, is a consummate performer who recreates the elegant ambiance of the nineteenth century drawing room salon gatherings in the beautiful, heritage listed Sir Stamford Hotel.
Actor, storyteller – and polished magician of long-standing reputation – Glen ‘takes the stage’ in a meticulously choreographed and practised performance that draws his audience into the “neverland between logic and imagination”. Softly spoken, he smilingly captivates the audience, using the history of magic and a plethora of quotations to provide the ‘patter’ that beguiles and distracts from the slickness of his dexterous sleight of hand.
Aided by his assistant, Kate, he uses all the recognised accoutrements of the trade – rope, silk handkerchiefs, a cup and ball, crystal vases, wine goblets, playing cards, numbers – to conjure and amaze, always gently diverting the audience with the simple device of words. Anecdotes about famous magicians, humorous tales of fictional colonial practitioners of his mesmerising art, a description of the mythical Sir Stamford ‘ghost’, are expertly used to disguise each skilfully contrived deception.
a meticulously choreographed and practised performance
The third-floor salon of the Sir Stamford is the perfect place for this “intimate evening of stylish magic and intriguing stories” that has been attracting visitors to Sydney on Friday and Saturday evenings for the past five years. Magic has a universal attraction. Glen suggests it’s described best in the words of Mark Twain: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they are being fooled”.
‘Stylish” is the operative word for the evening. Guests are met in the foyer by the Concierge who, in true magician style, spreads a deck of cards asking them to take one. This becomes their ‘ticket’ to pre-show canapés and champagne where they are welcomed by the equally stylish Kate. The salon, like the hotel itself, breathes taste and chic, nineteenth century sophistication. It’s the perfect venue for a performance art that, though it harks back to ancient Greece and Egypt, but was honed to an artform byJean Eugène Robert-Houdin, originally a clockmaker, who opened a magic theatre in Paris in 1845.
Bruce Glen’s Magical Soirée is a little theatrical gem hidden in the heart of Sydney Cove, one that attests to Raoul Dahl’s instruction to “watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places”.