In Praise of Christian Cagigal

He bustled into the chamber in his coat, hat, and scarf and carrying his tattered leather case. Evocative of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, he scurries about muttering about being late and begins to take things out of his case and setting them out on what is available in the room. Two small table cloths are draped over some furniture, a metronome is set out and turned on, a sand timer is positioned carefully on a small table, and an antique stereoscope is taken out and set on another table.

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So begins the enchanting and emotional one-man show from renowned San Francisco magician Christian Cagigal. Entitled ‘Now and at the Hour’, the show explores a wide range of themes around time, deja vu, and our inability to achieve resolution and closure with our parents. The show combines inexplicable moments of magic and mindreading with deep reflection on a childhood growing up with a father deeply affected by the Vietnam War.

The staging of the show took place in Hitchin Priory in Hertfordshire as part of the 14th Tabula Mentis meeting of Psycrets: The British Society of Mystery Entertainers, an international association I helped co-found in 2007.

I met Christian on-line and then spent a day with him in San Francisco in April 2013, when I invited him to come to the UK to share his performance with us. The room was transfixed as Christian made us gasp, laugh, sigh, and fall silent into a deeper and perhaps darker moment of contemplation. This is the kind of magic that moves us, where the ‘tricks’ are a fantastic medium for a much larger narrative. This is no holds barred stuff.

The show is exactly one hour, and when the last grain of sand fells from the top to the bottom of the timer, Christian jumps up, gathers his things back into his case, puts on his coat, hat and scarf and leaves in a nervous bluster once again.

The show is a must see and has won a number of accolades across the US at various fringe festivals and theatres.

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It was a true honour and a privilege to witness such artistry, and in my view, a quintessential exemplar of the new wave of performance magic that is making its way into the public.

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