I have just been to see an extraordinarily joyous show by Doug Segal – I can make you feel good (Ballroom, Voodoo Rooms ) and I can confirm that it did indeed make me feel good.
Segal is a man with a definite physical presence. He is a great bear of a chap and even smartly dressed in tweed, with waistcoat, he could just as easily be mistaken for an all in wrestler as much as a magician. His forte is psychology, misdirection and being able to get the most out of his stage volunteers. The show began with a bit of a false start, as four latecomers noisily arrived just as Segal took to the stage and this encouraged him to turn around and redo his entrance. These four chaps were later chosen for a couple of the set pieces and notwithstanding their front row position, I don’t think their inclusion was a coincidence – hopefully they will learn to arrive in enough time to be able to hide at the back for their next show.
Segal mixes his tricks with a very nice line in patter and enough jokes to bring many a laugh to the room. I especially enjoyed his take on titles used by more mysterious magicians and felt that it deserved a lot more. The first trick was a spot of mind reading that easily established Segal’s credentials as knowing his stuff. From here there was a probability defying card trick that demonstrated how happiness and unhappiness tend to reinforce each other. This was then followed by a numbers trick involving an incomplete telephone number, which has hopefully created a new friendship. The biggest trick involved the four late comers, who showed how even bright looking people can sometimes struggle to follow instructions. This was a manoeuvrer where they formed an interlocking gravity resisting formation. However, despite Segal at first encouraging them to move their feet forwards into the correct position and then pulling and prodding them (this reminded me of a corporal I once met at Catterick who taught drill), they somehow didn’t manage to get this and so this collapsed, with no harm done to any bones or to the show itself. The finale was a baffling lottery ticket gambit that was set up months ago, although I do think Segal would be safer with using a pair of gloves, rather than just the one.
The magical stunts are the mainsprings of this show, in which Segal is ably assisted by Sophie who ensured that everything was laid on when required. One could waste a lot of time pondering the ‘how’ of these, but I think it is more in keeping with the theme to simply enjoy the ‘now’ of these tricks. They are carried off with impressive verve and one has total confidence in Segal’s ability to achieve anything he wished in this show. He held the audience in rapt attention, with there being no movement or extraneous noises whilst he was setting up each section. This has been the first show I’ve been to with a standing ovation (encouraged, admittedly, but still well deserved) and I ended up hurting my hands clapping.
One could argue that writing a review of a show designed to make one feel good less than a hour after it concluded will be influenced by this good feeling, yet I feel that this just proves the point that Segal’s show does encourage one to feel good. I certainly do. This was a very uplifting show. It was entertaining, informative, funny and bloody spectacular. This is something a bit different to the standard comic with a microphone that I usually see and I’d heartily recommend it to anyone.