Emporium of Wonders: Marvellous or Disastrous?
The subtly-understated name of the ‘Marvellous Emporium of Wonders’ suggested a great deal of hype and excitement surrounding the latest joint Performing Arts offering of comedy, magic and circus skills presented […]
The subtly-understated name of the ‘Marvellous Emporium of Wonders’ suggested a great deal of hype and excitement surrounding the latest joint Performing Arts offering of comedy, magic and circus skills presented in a camp Victorian fashion.
With the promise of one of these events per month, it seems the University’s entertainers have their work cut out keeping audiences suitably excited and interested in what they have to offer. This, then, is a quick summary of their first effort.
I shall start by adding a caveat that I’m friends with two of the performers: the magicians Joe and Paul. That said, being a friend of mine has never been a shield from criticism, and these two are no exception. Let’s deal with the less positive aspects first.
The magic sections of the show took the form of Paul and Joe in the guise of two wisecracking Victorian time-travellers who used the word “bloody” like we would use a comma. Some of the dialogue in places seemed slightly repetitive (not including the recurring reminder that… did the audience know: “WE’RE TIME-TRAVELLERS!”) and the odd joke felt forced and out of place, although generally the segments were genuinely funny and there was a particularly good rapport with the numerous audience members who participated: reluctantly, or otherwise.
The tricks themselves were pretty solid crowd-pleasers. Although there were essentially only three actual effects, they were padded with enough theatre and depth that they didn’t seem drawn out, and most of the assembled crowd seemed suitably amazed at the apparently impossible results once minds were read and predictions were unveiled. By and large, the magic sections were a definite strong point in the show and were carried off with enough pantomime and bluster (particularly from Paul; whose character was just on the funny side of mentally unstable) to be memorable and enjoyable.
Circus Society were another staple of the entertainment, providing an assortment of skills including diablo, juggling, stick juggling and hula hooping. The latter of these was largely entertaining when it didn’t stray into slightly out-of-place dance moves, with hoops spiralling up and down bodies and limbs with apparent ease. The rest of the acts (while certainly skilful) were let down in places by the odd drop or mistake. It seems Circus Society may not have wheeled out their biggest guns for this show, since I’ve personally witnessed far more superhuman feats from them in the past. I’d definitely look forward to a higher skill level next time around.
Finally, and sadly, the weakest link in the performance was Comedy Society. In areas there were true moments of comic brilliance and loud guffaws, but for a third of the overall performance the assortment of sketches and gags were largely forgettable and (whilst certainly not terrible) felt amateurish and ultimately very mediocre. Perhaps my tastes are more restricted than the audiences’, however, since there were gracious chuckles to most of the jokes on offer, but I feel that, as with Circus Society, there was more that could be done here that would have promoted the event from mildly amusing to thoroughly hilarious.