Theatre review: Magic Sho, Tron Theatre, Glasgow

IT WAS Christmas 1979 when everything changed. The year Santa gave young Sho her first wand, inspiring a life-long passion for magic. Up until then, Sho and her best friend Rabbit were on an equal footing, even if only one of them actually had a pulse. Once the wand arrived, however, and Rabbit was relegated to the role of ‘magician’s assistant’, things took a turn for the worse.

Shona Reppe, queen of Scottish childrens theatre. Picture: Contributed
Shona Reppe, queen of Scottish childrens theatre. Picture: Contributed
Shona Reppe, queen of Scottish childrens theatre. Picture: Contributed

Magic Sho

Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Rating: ****

Not that Sho is any the wiser – she’s too busy being glamorous and fabulous, touring the world with her magic. But in the quiet moments, in-between the tricks and the banter, Rabbit finds a way to let the audience know about his plight.

When a cuddly toy takes on anthropomorphic qualities and expresses sadness, you’d need a heart of steel not to be moved. Sitting in the spotlight, white ears at a jaunty angle, Rabbit looks so vulnerable and sad, even the grown-ups in the crowd are saying “ahh”.

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Which says less about the toy itself, and more about the show’s creator, Shona Reppe. The undisputed queen of the Scottish children’s theatre scene, Reppe is not only a captivating performer but a talented designer. The set – part living room, part stage – is all her own work, topped off with glitzy costumes worthy of any 1970s variety show.

Following a series of lessons from magician Kevin McMahon, and a trip to the Blackpool Magic Convention, Reppe now has another skill to her bow, which she incorporates skilfully into the show. Magic wands miraculously grow or change colour, handkerchiefs disappear and reappear, rope knots are tied and untied without the use of fingers – and of course, Rabbit is regularly put to ill-use.

Whether he’s being forced to dress up in a ridiculous costume, having his head chopped off or being pulled from a hat, Sho’s long-time pal soldiers on, without a cuddle or word of praise from his thoughtless companion. Until finally, enough is enough.

Very much a show of two halves, at first Magic Sho has us laughing out loud at Reppe’s dry wit and audience interaction. But we all know the fun can’t last when one half of the duo is so unhappy, and the final section takes us to a far more emotional place.

The tricks may be basic, but Reppe executes them perfectly (“That’s magic!” shrieked one little boy joyfully mid-show) and her humour crosses the generations with intelligence and charm.

Seen on 25.09.15