A Modern Deception: Live To Air is a magic show, a comedy show, and a morning television show rolled into one. Magicians Alex de la Rambelje, Vyom Sharma and Luke Hocking appear on the live-to-air pre-morning show sitcom about magicians who are also lawyers, when they find out a) it has been cancelled and b) the hosts of the following morning show have died, so they will need to fill in.
The show sees the three men (with occasional cameos from stage manager Brendan Jelly) take over said morning show, and Magic Mornings, as it is now called, explores the tropes of morning television through magic: the news told through cards, the cooking segment which causes a cake to magically appear, the infomercial with ever multiplying wine bottles, the weather report crossing a trick from stage to video. Through a mixture of pre-recorded segments and live action, A Modern Deception gives us a fun laugh at morning shows, and genuine amazement at some magic tricks – and quite a few more spoiled by a childhood of reading magic books.
Director Danny Delahunty and script developer Max Attwood devised the work in conjunction with the magicians, but the work struggles to find its feet in the balance between the world of the morning show, and the “off air” conversations of commercial breaks. Through this construct, the show tries to have it both ways: be a traditional magic show with audience participation, while also playing around with the conventions of a morning show. While some of these tricks would be harder to shoehorn into the construct, in the end these off-air segments cheat the show.
On their own, these tricks are often funny and are well performed, but in a narrative show the team need to be a bit tighter in being faithful to the framing device. In the end, what we walk away from does indeed feel more like a magic show and less like a play. Which, in itself isn’t a bad thing – there is just room for there to be much more.
A Modern Deception: Live to Air, performed by Alex de la Rambelje, Vyom Sharma, and Luke Hocking, devised with director Danny Delahunty and developed and edited by Max Attwood. South and music by Tom Pitts; Stage Manager, Tech and Performer Brendan Jelly. In the Cupola at the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 3. More information and tickets.