Arts

Out of sight: Dynamo brings his magic to Belfast

TV magic star Dynamo is bringing his first ever live tour to Ireland next year for a string of dates in Belfast and Dublin. David Roy spoke to the Bradford-born Magician Impossible trickster, real name Steven Frayne, about taking his 'street magic' on the road with Seeing Is Believing

Dynamo AKA Steven Frayne draws upon his difficult upbringing for his first ever live show

HE'S famous for his jaw-dropping street magic trickery on hit TV series Magician Impossible and high profile stunts like levitating before Christ The Redeemer in Rio and walking across the Thames.

However, now Dynamo, aka Steven Frayne (32), is facing his biggest challenge to date: taking a full-blown live magic show on the road for the first time ever.

Seeing Is Believing arrives in Ireland next year for 10 dates in Belfast and Dublin, and the Bradford-born master of deception is currently attracting rave reviews at venues across Britain.

The Irish News caught Dynamo during his opening run of shows at Manchester's Apollo Theatre, during which he wowed a sold-out crowd with card tricks, eerily accurate predictions, physically impossible feats and some seriously impressive conjuring involving objects much too large to be hidden up the sleeves of his trademark hoodie.

While we were sworn to secrecy about the exact nature of the two-hour, audience-interaction-heavy show, it proved to be a logical extension of the young illusionists's refreshingly down to Earth, self-deprecating persona.

Featuring impressive cartoon animations of incidents from Dynamo's often difficult adolescence in Bradford (he was bullied due to the physical effects of Crohn's Disease) and video footage of his beloved grandparents, Seeing Is Believing is a loosely autobiographical affair, tracing Dynamo's magic career from the hours spent mastering basic card tricks in his bedroom right up to triumphantly walking on water before the world's media.

We'll reveal no more – except to advise that fans of Back To the Future (the magician's favourite film) are in for a real treat.

Oh, and do make sure your mobile is fully charged.

According to Dynamo himself, the live show is something he has been working on for the past 20 years.

An enormous amount of rehearsal and preparation has gone on behind the scenes prior to the tour to ensure he's in top physical shape for the stunts at hand and that things go according to plan on the night.

"For the past eight weeks, I've been at the gym for 8am then getting to the venue about 9.30am and rehearsing onstage right through to 11pm at night," Dynamo told me before the Manchester performance.

"So it's been quite physically demanding – but also a lot of fun. I've learned so much. It's been odd though, because all the practice was done on a stage in an empty room."

"I just had to hope that all the ideas I had in my imagination would get the right reactions. Opening night was so nerve-wracking that when I went out there and everyone seemed to love it, I was absolutely pumping."

Indeed, the Inner Magic Circle Member with Gold Star (a position only held by 300 magicians worldwide) got slightly over-excited during his live premiere, resulting in an injury that forced him to cancel the second night's show.

"I just pushed myself too much," he recalled. "At one point I just heard my back go (snaps fingers) which is why I had to cancel. I woke up at 5am and couldn't move.

"I was so gutted for the fans, especially anyone who had to travel, so we rescheduled and put on special matinee for them."

The star underwent intensive physiotherapy to enable him to return to the Apollo stage just a few days later to complete the rest of his opening run in Manchester.

Judging from the performance we saw, Dynamo still seems to be settling into his new dual role as trickster and host: the necessary theatrics of the Seeing is Believing show are a world away from the up-close-and-personal displays of spontaneous street magic with which he made his name.

However, his confidence as a showman will surely grow with experience now that he's finally out on the road – and no-one could accuse this most dedicated of magicians of not putting in a shift for his fans every night.

"Success doesn't come without hard work," says Dynamo. "No matter how talented you are, you can't take it for granted.

"I'm very fortunate to be in this position and it's the fans who watch the shows and buy the tickets who have put me here. I can't let them down now.

"I'm not a control freak but I am a stickler for detail – attention to detail is everything. I guess I would say I'm a perfectionist, but at the same time I understand that perfection doesn't happen overnight.

"I've only done this show seven times so far – so it will probably be a million times better by the time I get to Belfast."

As mentioned, Seeing is Believing draws upon Dynamo's turbulent upbringing in Bradford, where magic offered him a defence mechanism against and an escape route from the bullies who used to stuff him into a wheelie bin before pushing it down a hill and once threw him into the local reservoir – the latter an apparently pivotal incident recreated in cartoon form during the show.

His great-grandfather Kenneth introduced him to simple 'pub magic' tricks involving matchboxes and cards before passing on the fledgling wizard's first true jaw-dropper: the ability to make himself immoveable through pure concentration.

Given that his magic has always required hours and hours of solitary practice, it's little wonder that Dynamo loves amazing audiences so much today.

Indeed, it seems the audience-participation during Seeing Is Believing is the magician's attempt to create an inclusive vibe that will unite his fans in 'how did he do that?' wonder.

"I was quite a loner growing up," admits Dynamo, who doesn't drink or smoke and who has maintained a tight 'inner circle' of friends since his teens.

"I was picked on and misunderstood and that's made me want to connect with people. The way I grew up has made me want to bring people together to watch the show.

"There's points in the show where literally everyone in the audience is involved in the show at the same time. The magic will happen on them, not just the people on stage.

It seems that Dynamo is already looking forward to performing for his fans in Belfast, particularly the ones who arrive on two wheels.

"I'm proper into the TV show Sons of Anarchy at the moment, where the bikers always talk about 'the Irish contingent'," he reveals.

"I don't know if they really exist but I'd really like to meet them – even though I can't actually ride a motorbike myself."

Well, when you can already levitate and walk on water, why would you bother?

:: Dynamo, March 9 to 13, SSE Arena, Belfast / March 16 to 20, 3Arena, Dublin. Tickets and full information available from Ticketmaster.ie.

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