Event Review – Magna Mysteria: Neither Magic or Mysterious… or was it?

What a beautifully designed logo. Good work whoever was behind that magic!

Roll up, roll up if you’ve got £15 quid to waste, for the least magical show in Bristol!

Last Saturday heralded the eagerly awaited final instalment from the ‘carnival troupe on a journey of intrigue’ – the team calling themselves Magna Mysteria who promised (I quote all this from their website) ‘The most spectacular showdown Bristol has ever seen’. And Bristol’s seen some pretty good showdowns. After all, we gave rise to the Stokes Croft Riots (if you’re thinking of that kind of showdown) and the many amazing, and actually spectacular showdowns hosted by the amazing Invisible Circus, in the same big top no less. So when I read about the Mayfest event being put on by Magna Mysteria, I really was excited.

I love Mayfest Bristol. I have been to some really amazing shows in previous years, and judging from the advertisements, this looked great. I mean whoever designed the poster should not under any circumstance be marred by the absolute hopelessness of the actual event. They gave a hint of a magicians beard, without revealing the face (both magical and mysterious) and the logo was wicked. It was also painted all over town. I can only assume they spanked their entire budget on the advertising and the rental of the big top for the evening, only to find themselves suddenly caught short and not feeling very magical at all when they realised they had no money for anything but chalk and a slightly tinny loudspeaker for the ‘spectacular showdown’.

Now I assume that something must have gone ‘spectacularly’ (oh the irony) wrong. However, it went so wrong that no one there seemed to be able to fathom what was supposed to have happened in the first place.

And that is the most irritating thing, there has been no apology, or explanation concerning what was supposed to happen. The most magical trick of the whole event was the immediate disappearance of the carnival troupe’s twitter feed, presumably because they magically foresaw the tirade of abuse from the punters who paid fifteen quid and we’re told to keep in their mind one simple idea; ‘you are a magician’. Possibly, they meant this literally, and had more faith in us than we deserved. In which case, we have let no one but ourselves down.

In summary, the final show consisted of this; We all got dressed up as magicians, arrived at the big top expectant, and proudly showed the magical staff the tarot cards we had been given at the start of the whole experience. So far so good.

We gathered in the big top and waited. We were told that we had to look for our names, which had been chalked on the floor, in what we presumed was a huge magic circle, around the edge of the big top. We were to stand on our names and wait. This bit was quite exciting.

We all wandered, hyped up, (holding in our heads the simple thought that we were magicians and dressed as such) and found our names, then stood there, as instructed, waiting for the magic to begin.

And (now this is the most confusing bit) that was the last thing we heard about the magic circle of names. It was obvious they had put a lot of effort in here. There were a lot of us, and everyone’s name was there. There was even evidence of the crew having meticulously rubbed out the names a few times, and rewritten them in order to get the circle perfect.

But why?

Maybe that was the ‘Mysteria’ part. However, we had been standing there a brief few seconds before we were summoned into the centre to hear a man tell a story. Something about the magical sisters not being able to be there, and that the magician couldn’t make it either, because at some point in history, the tent had burned down.

I think. It was hard to hear.

I expected there to be some fiery illusion forthcoming, but no such luck. We were then instructed to get our phones out to play the short piece of music we had been asked to download before the show. All at the same time…gasp…and then…

It became evident that there were a lot of people who had paid for tickets, but did not have smart phones. So they were out. Also, the ones who did couldn’t hear them in the big top. We couldn’t therefore hear anyone else’s music either. I don’t even know if we were meant to. A ‘magical voice’ said something you couldn’t hear over the tinny loudspeaker. And that was it.

We were told to head out into the city. Like everyone else there, I assumed this meant the magic was about to start. But we were led….suspend your disbelief… simply to the exit. And there we all stood, for about five minutes. Waiting, dressed as magicians, until word filtered back, met by varying responses; namely denial, disappointment, then anger, that people had spoken to security. That was it.

The most entertaining (and saddest) thing I saw all evening was a middle aged man, who had a brilliant outfit, simply look at the messenger blankly, shake his head at the floor, and the remove his velvet cape and walk home. My magical troupe quickly opted for the nearest pub to experience a spectacular showdown of Jagerbombs, and forget the whole ‘experience’.

So should you see anything advertised as magical, and put on by a ‘carnival troupe on a journey of intrigue’ masquerading a Magna Mysteria, or Mercurial Wrestler, steer clear, if you still believe in magic.