Review of 'Just for Laughs London - Champions of Magic'


“Champions of Magic” is one of the acts in the London Just for Laughs festival in 2016 that features 5 of the “world's best” magicians - “Edward Hilsum”, “Fay Presto”, “Alex McAleer” and “Young & Strange”. The 2 hour show (including a 15-20 minute interval) was quite good particularly considering the not particularly ideal location (in a theatre in the basement of UCL not really set up for large production numbers…lets just say). Each of the magicians had two sets on stage to show off their art.

“Edward Hilsum” started off the night with his slight of hand act - Making doves appear out of the air and this sort of thing. “Fay Presto” then made a brief appearance where she showed off a very good “magic rings” trick where she ended up connecting the rings to not only her microphone cable but also to herself and a hacksaw. After the interval she showed an amazing set of tricks where she (and a young member of the audience) cut a rope into pieces and repeatedly put it back together. In the middle of the second act she brought some audience members on the stage to perform some more close-up magic but this part of the act seemed not quite so polished with a few slightly embarrassing mistakes (particularly in regards to a “disappearing” ring borrowed from an audience member). “Alex McAleer” came on to dominate the proceedings with a relaxed banter as he performed his “mind reading” act to great effect. Returning after the interval he astounded by revealing the contents of a chalk board that had been held suspended over the stage but held details of a seemingly random member of the audience. The evening ended with a glitzier presentation by “Young & Strange” who performed some of the classic magic acts including cutting a lady in half and the “squeeze” (where they seemingly shrink themselves in a horizontal box). Here the banter between the two was quite amusing for the most part (particularly when they forgot their lines).

I can't say there was anything too astounding on display here. Some of the “mind reading” by McAleer was quite well done and he had a wonderful stage presence. After a great start by Presto she disappointed later in the show. McAleer I found a bit too plastic a performance with his cheesy smile and feeling that he thinks himself much better than he turned out to be. Young & Strange were amusing but did not really deliver on the promise of a big finish (putting your arm through a spinning blade?…ok).

So, overall disappointing but it did amuse a number of younger people in the crowd. A few of the tricks were particularly well done which did demonstrate the obvious talent and experience of some of the acts but all in all, not quite a rip-roaring success.

Rating: “Not great, but not the worse”

Review Date: 2016-07-22

Logan Hall

Location: London (England)

Address: 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

Public Transport: TUBE Russell Square

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7612 6143


In the basement of a University College of London building, Logan hall is small but has great sight lines for the stage with seats on only a slight slope. Acoustics are good but not fantastic. The rooms feel a bit old and dated now but perfectly functional.