“Captivating, exciting and mind-rattling”: MYSTERY & MAGIC amazes Toronto on a monthly basis 

The Quotable Sayak

The Quotable Sayak

The Quotable Sayak is a critic, contributor and coordinator of social media at Sesaya. Naturally arts-inclined, he is a drama major in a secondary arts program and music student at Sesaya.

Beyond Mental Borders: Alexandra Brynn & Armand Antony

We don’t have a lot of magic in Toronto. 

Magic happens all the time – for instance, the Raptors championship was magic. But we don’t really have a lot of places to find traditional magic: card tricks, birds from hats, illusions and unexplained feats.

Enter MYSTERY & MAGIC, a monthly live magic show on the third Sunday evening of every month at The Rec Room downtown. 

I recently checked it out with my family, and as a teenager, I found MYSTERY & MAGIC to be a captivating, exciting, and mind-rattling show that over its runtime is thoroughly entertaining and, well, a bit shocking. The opening act, magician Jonah Barnes, has a smooth-running, well-put together interactive set that includes a lot of tricks that are fun and even a little silly – one particularly memorable one involves a disappearing balloon. This is a great way to open the show, hook the audience in, and set the mood for what’s to come, but it doesn’t quite prepare you for the thought-provoking main event – Beyond Mental Borders. 

Beyond Mental Borders performed their show “Connection”, and despite some moments where Armand Antony and co-star Melissa Ronson (who has since been succeeded by Alexandra Brynn) talked over each other or the chemistry felt slightly off, the show was well done. Beyond Mental Borders specializes in “mentalism” – which is a fancy word for magic that doesn’t seem to be explainable except through ESP (extrasensory perception). All of the tricks were entertaining and exciting, and the show had a nice array of illusions, without them feeling randomly selected. Each trick felt intended for this show, yet each stood out, as they were quite different.

Some standout tricks (without spoilers) were the money, movie theatre, and phone number ones. These were, for me, the most surprising and left the most lasting impression on me – especially the final trick of the night, which sent us out hotly debating just how it could have been pulled off.  If I could offer one piece of constructive criticism, I might shift the order of the show a little bit. I think it might run smoother and maximize the impact over its runtime if the tricks were arranged from least to most shocking. For example, towards the end of the show, there was a magic trick involving drawing (which I was actually pulled on stage for), and while it was fun, it was one of the less shocking and hard-to-figure-out-how-they-did-it tricks. The trick was good, no doubt about it, but I think it could have been more effectively utilised if placed closer towards the start.

Sophie Brender, Armand Antony and Alexandra Brynn

Overall though, minor gripes aside, this was a really fun and exciting show to see. We found it to be a perfect family outing (the Rec Room food was part of this – the massive salmon & avocado sandwich also blew me away). The room was filled with couples and families, with children like us, and they all seemed to be having a good time (and scratching their heads to try and figure things along with us!) Most times when I go out to see a show, I see theatre, musical theatre or live music. And while yes, part of the reason I don’t see more magic is because there aren’t a lot of magic shows in Toronto…it’s also true that magic shows are often cookie-cutter presentations. They rely on the same tricks,  like turning a $5 bill into a 20, or having the magician saw their assistant in half. MYSTERY & MAGIC though, goes above those clichés, and is a show that far exceeded my expectations. I am so happy this wasn’t just a generic magic show, and instead featured brilliant individuals who managed to shock, amaze, and confound me all at the same time.

I’m still thinking about that phone number trick!

News You Can Use

What: MYSTERY & MAGIC by Beyond Mental Borders (Alexandra Brynn and Arman Antony) | Opening show by Jonah Barnes

Who: Audiences of all ages

When and Where: Sundays every month 

Where: The Rec Room, 255 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON

Info and Tickets: beyondmentalborders.com

© Sayak S-G, Sesaya / SesayArts Magazine, 2019

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