There are expectations set by the daily familiarity and experience with the macrocosmic scale; even those unfamiliar with Newton’s laws of motion can gauge where to reach to catch a ball thrown to them, mentally calculating velocity and the arc of the trajectory under the acceleration of gravity. On this scale, objects are discrete and definable and do not shift phases or exhibit bizarre properties.
The realm of the ultra-small is different, where wave-particle duality takes over and light becomes neither electromagnetic radiation nor a moving photon but something between which demonstrates the properties of both. This is the quantum scale, and similarly while the apparently opposing fields of science and magic, one based on rational observation of evidence and the other wilfully misleading the senses, in the hands of Kevin Quantum the borders become pleasantly indistinct.
Opening with Aerosmith and titled Illuminations, the stage of the otherwise darkened space of Teviot’s debating hall is appropriately beautifully lit as Kevin explains to the capacity audience that humans are accustomed to creating mental images of the world or playing scenes in our head in order to predict results and thus make appropriate decisions based on this information.
Aware that people enjoy magic in different ways, he asks which of those present identify themselves as believers and which as sceptics before he introduces his trusty friend the Trout of Destiny to summon his first participant to the stage, opening with an established trick but one which it is still a joy to witness the response of those who have not seen it before.
Just because his own background is hard science does not in any way mean that he is a dull-edged cynic, and he offers not just magic and light but also fills the room with mental illumination and wonder, his routine much more physical in the larger space than Quantum Magic of the previous Fringe season in the syncopated brilliance of his Mr Blue Sky rainbow routine and his eagerness to tear apart a copy of New Scientist and distribute it to the corners of the hall with maximum haste.
There are moments which defy immediate rational analysis; on one occasion it is genuinely baffling how he achieves what he does, and even when the underlying principal must be a simple practical method the actual means by which it is applied and manipulated remains an elusive mystery.
To exist a rainbow needs water, light, and someone to witness it, and a magician also needs an audience in order to delight. More ambitious than his previous shows performed at both the Fringe and the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Kevin Quantum’s greatest illusion in his enchanting Illuminations may in fact be how swiftly he can make an hour pass.