Theatre

Master of illusion

The mentalist: Karan Singh Magic prefers to describe himself as a psychological illusionist.  

He goes by the moniker Karan Singh ‘Magic’, but to call him a magician undermines the specifics of his craft. You might have seen one of Singh’s many YouTube videos, in which he’s performed for a variety of celebrities from the All India Bakchod comedians to Vidya Balan and Stephen Fry, and blown their minds. Eliciting sheer, unfiltered disbelief is what ‘Magic’ seems to do best, and he’s not relying on parlour tricks to do it.

A “psychological illusionist” is how the Delhi-based entertainer prefers to describe himself. Instead of pulling rabbits out of hats, Singh relies on his keen intuitive abilities to “read people’s thoughts” and carry out other feats which can broadly be referred to as mentalism. Singh also studied at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London, and his work draws heavily from his formal acting education. While he makes his living on the corporate circuit, “doing shows where uncles ask me to make their wives disappear”, Singh admits that smaller, more intimate “theatre shows” are the ones he truly enjoys. “At a corporate gig I’m usually just doing my tricks, but when I do a theatre show there’s always a narrative going on,” he says. An example of this is ‘Dybukk: 13’, a horror-themed magic show that Singh brought to The Hive last year, where it received a standing ovation.

On Friday night Singh will return to Mumbai to perform another theatre-based show, One Night Stand, this time at The Cuckoo Club. Clocking in at a full 90 minutes, the performance will intersect magic and theatre to tell the story of a formative incident from Singh’s childhood. “When I was eleven, I went to a summer camp in Tirthan, near Manali. Over there, I met a magician named Ishabuddin Khan, who taught me my first two tricks: one with a pack of cards, and another with a handkerchief and a coin. That’s the day I decided I want to learn magic,” Singh says.

Later that night, Singh found himself back in his tent with four other boys, discussing what each of them wanted to do with their lives. “That’s where the concept for One Night Stand comes from. I haven’t met or spoken to those kids since that summer camp, but I’ve taken their aspirations, weaved them into a larger story and even developed specific tricks around them. One of those boys, for example, wanted to start his own company, so there’s a trick in the show about business and money.

”There is also a parallel, autobiographical storyline about Singh’s journey through magic, and both narratives will collide toward the end of the show. Singh has no idea what those four boys are up to now, but he’s immensely satisfied at having achieved what he envisioned for himself all those years ago.

One Night Stand debuted in Delhi on July 19 last year to celebrate Singh’s birthday. For its first show in Mumbai, Singh will perform a slightly revised iteration. “The tricks have been refined and the four characters in my story have been fleshed out better,” Singh says. “Given the nature of magic I do, I’m also going to be interacting with the crowd a lot and making them a part of the show. You’ll find that most magicians tend to use a lot of props, but for me the only essential one is an audience,” he says.

Karan Singh Magic will perform one show of One Night Stand at The Cuckoo Club, Bandra, at 8.30 p.m. today. See bookmyshow for details.


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Printable version | Jul 20, 2021 12:57:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/master-of-illusion/article17488348.ece

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