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Bullet Catch

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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2-26 Aug

It's not often you see magic combined with a heavy dose of existentialist philosophy, but such is the case in Rob Drummond's brilliant new show at the Traverse, in a co-production with The Arches in Glasgow.

Drummond commands the stage with the calm authority inherent in all good showmen as he explores the most notorious trick of them all - the bullet catch - in which a magician 'catches' a marked bullet in his teeth.

The case that fascinates him is that of William Henderson, who in 1912 was killed while performing the stunt in London. His volunteer assassin, a "mild-manered labourer", felt enormous guilt over the incident but the courts reflected that Henderson may well have planned the apparent accident himself.

Inviting a volunteer to join him on stage, Drummond reanacts a bullet catch but not before indulging in some canny legerdemain and a little psychoanalysis. Our volunteer (a female theatre director during the performance I saw) is asked some probing personal questions in order that Drummond can get to know the person who will be pulling the trigger on him.

This reliance on the input of a member of the public ensures an element of unpredictability to the show, even if the outcome seems certain from the start.

It's fascinating stuff, and afficiandos of magic trivia will be in seventh heaven. I'm perhaps too much of a cynic to get fully taken in by the trickery, but nevertheless I know a master at work when I see one.


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