Nothing Up My Sleeves is an impressive evening of magic

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Nothing Up My Sleeves | Matt Johnson | Centre Stage at Surrey City Hall | December 1, 2017

First inspired to explore magic as a kid when he imagined shrinking himself down and entering a music box in his grandmother’s house, Matt Johnson has been fascinated by illusion and fantasy ever since. His theatre show is a fusion of personal storytelling, comedy, traditional magic acts, illusions, and audience participation.

The theatrical, personal element made this a captivating evening of magic as Johnson thoroughly impressed us over and over again. He passed a rope through his body, levitated a young girl, and read the minds of some audience members. Three brave women even handed over their wedding rings to let him link them all together, which left them speechless.

The bravest audience member, though, was a women who joined Johnson onstage for a Russian roulette style trick involving four paper bags and a long carpenter’s nail. Before performing the trick, Johnson showed us a video of the same thing being done on live television in Poland; except in that case, the host of the program had the nail go through her hand when the magician chose the wrong bag. For the first two selections, the audience member told Johnson which bag to slam his hand down on, but for the last decision between the two remaining bag, he took her hand and asked her to pick the safe bag. I have no idea how he makes sure the audience member doesn’t end up with a nail through her hand.

It was very disappointing that the theatre wouldn’t allow Johnson to perform his most dangerous, exciting act — an escape from a water tank. Instead he showed us the video of when he performed the act this past summer on the television show Penn & Teller: Fool Us. In 2018 he will travel to the UK to perform on Britain’s Got Talent.

With his self-deprecating, British humour and gracious good nature, Johnson was a brilliant entertainer who kept the crowd spellbound the entire evening. As he joked, he’s performing above his price range. He would fit right in as a Las Vegas headliner, and I’m sure he’s on his way there as he continues to gain exposure on television and perform internationally.    

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