Kevin McMahon, scientist, inventor, bow tied magician; he may not yet have mastered the art (or science) of time travel but he is certainly a mad man with a (glass fronted) box and manages a convincing teleportation though the most impressive demonstration of his powers is in transformation, not just the expected scraps of paper blossoming into flowers but of himself, a former physicist who toiled in obscurity into acclaimed magician.
Having already performed during the Edinburgh International Science Festival in April, McMahon is now midway through a complete run of the Edinburgh Fringe, twenty five shows in the darkened chambers of gothic Teviot Row House off Bristo Square, and the capacity crowd are delighted by what they are not only watching but invited to participate in activities and examine the magician’s box of tricks.
Opening with the “randomising trout” (making a change from the Salmon of Doubt) to ensure no complicity with his first selected collaborator, with one of his dexterous hands in the world of illusions and the other in the realm of the rational, the show progresses through a series of basic scientific concepts, conservation of energy, gravity, teleportation, the audience acting as test subjects, but the line he follows between the two sides is calculated to maximise enjoyment: “If you see me laughing alone on stage you know these are the physics jokes.”
Explaining the statistical likelihoods of an audience selected playing card matching his own versus the three couples asked to shuffle themselves onstage, he shifts the audience to the alternate quantum reality where the cards correspond before presenting the correct transformational sequence to realign the mismatched lovers.
With the aid of coins, cards, glass bottles and random children, some moments are simple sleight of hand, well established but well done, while others will bamboozle even the most keenly sceptical intellect, the inanimate physical objects of McMahon’s ministrations truly seeming to obey his commands.