The five world-class illusionists who make up the Champions Of Magic come to Portsmouth for the first time following four years touring with sold out shows, rave reviews and a run in London’s West End.
Now the show comes to The Kings for one night only, as part of their latest UK tour.
Mentalist Alex McAleer has been a staple of the show since 2014, and he explained the concept: ;There’s four acts - but five magicians as one’s a double act - and each of us has their own specialism, so I do mentalism and mind-reading, that sort of stuff. We also have a close-up magician Kayla Drescher who does that out in the audience and we have cameras on her with video screens up so everyone can see what’s happening.
'We have a young escape artist called Fernando from Mexico, and then Young and Strange who do the grand illusions, and they’re kind of a comedy act as well.
'We all do our separate acts, and then we all come together for one final piece as a group.'
Mind games are Alex's specialty, but he still finds people who misunderstand what he does.
'It’s not like I discovered I had a "gift", it’s not being psychic, there’s a little bit of magic technique, a bit of suggestion, all these things coming together. I’m quite open that I’m not saying I’m psychic – I don’t present it like that. But you still get people who think that maybe I have some sort of gift, or even that I’m denying I have a gift. They ask if I can tell their fortune, or ask what next week’s lottery numbers are, and I have to say, no, not really,' he laughs.
'There’s a lot of psychology in magic as it is, misdirection, fooling the mind as much as the eye, etc.'
It was only in his teens that Alex discovered the field of magic that would make his name.
'When I was 14 I got this book on how to improve your memory and do memory tricks, and it encouraged you to show these things off, as fun party pieces, I guess.
'And in the back of the book there was a section for recommended further reading – some of them were essentially magic books which had mind tricks in them, and from there I discovered about this whole branch of magic called mentalism.
'I had the Paul Daniels magic kit when I was very young, but I never took it very seriously. I was an only child, so I had to entertain myself a lot, I was kind of into magic, I was kind of into comic books, I was kind of into a lot of things. It wasn’t until my early teens that I got very interested in one particular style of magic.'
His career has taken him as far afield as Australia and America – where he's noticed audiences are a bit different to here.
'They’re up for a laugh straight away in America, as soon as the lights go down, but over here they’re a bit more cynical and they make you work harder. You have to win the audiences over.
'In America, they’ve paid their money, so they’re going to have a good time!'
Of course people also want to catch them out – has this happened to Alex? 'It can happen. I get away with it a little more – sometimes it’s come close. I think people realise what I do isn’t an exact science - there’s a little bit of work and a process involved.'
CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC
The Kings Theatre, Southsea
Friday, May 4