Reviews to help you through the hit-or-miss loveliness that is the Calgary Fringe Festival
HOUDINI’S LAST ESCAPE
August 3, 2011
Wow! Houdini’s Last Escape is a super-polished, professional production. And word has obviously gotten out because, last night, Fringe staff had to put out extra chairs to accommodate the crowds.
The show offers a biographical sketch of Harry Houdini, arguably the most famous illusionist / performer the world has ever seen.
Houdini’s Last Escape is framed like a vaudeville show. Instead of carrying on with his usual routine, however, Houdini (Christopher Bange) decides to do something different and tell the “truth” about his life, much to the consternation of his wife, Bess (Tara Travis).
There’s an obvious sense of urgency in his desire to switch gears and tell his own story, recruiting a reluctant Bess to play all the other characters who have wandered through his colourful existence.
In between such biographical tidbits as the fact that Houdini’s mother was the love of his life and that he was the first man to fly in Australia, there are some first-rate magic tricks/illusions, plenty of comedy and a few tender moments shared by Bess and Houdini, a couple for 32 years.
I’m assuming Bange must be a magician in his own right to do what is required of him in this show, including Houdini’s famous Metamorphosis illusion.
A foreboding prophecy a gypsy told Houdini when he was a child pops up several times throughout the show, foreshadowing its end. The prophecy alludes to the fact that death will follow Houdini throughout his life, and that there will be one trap from which he will be unable to escape. And it is this inescapable trap from which Houdini runs all his life, trying to make himself invincible.
Both Bange and Travis are wonderful actors, currently based in
Her facial machinations as she takes on characters ranging from a famous vaudeville producer to Houdini’s rabbi father are both fantastic and hysterical.
Both actors have incredible ease on stage, picking up on the sound of beer cups falling over in the audience as a chance for extra humour, and are a delight to watch.
Houdini’s Last Escape is one of the most “mainstream” shows in the Festival and is perfect for a family audience. I’m sure the final two shows will sell out fast, so get your tickets ASAP.
Houdini’s Last Escape runs Thursday and Saturday.