WEA FF 0904 cape town magic club Magic-73.jpg: Mawonga Gayiya Picture Andrew Gorman Reporter Bianca Coleman

WHEN you sit in the front at a comedy show, you have to be brave and be prepared to be picked on. The same can be said for magic shows, but it’s a much more pleasurable experience.

The closer you get the better you can see, but I guarantee you still won’t be able to detect how the artists performing at the new Cape Town Magic Club have tricked your eyes and your brain. If you’re lucky, you might even be picked as a beautiful assistant, which is even more thrilling.

The club launched its first season this month, which runs every Monday night until June 6, with two shows each week. Local magicians – and the occasional mystery guest – will perform their unique brands of illusion, sleight of hand and mentalism that will blow your mind.

We attended the launch, which showcased all of them, and I can assure you your jaws will drop. Each one has a different style – of magic, patter and personality. Each one is highly entertaining. I spent the entire show with a broad smile on my face, in between gasping in awe and amazement.

My personal highlight was being called up on stage by Jesse Brooks to partake in a complicated card trick that left me speechless.

The venue, in the basement of the Cape Town Club, is perfect. You’ll be shown to the secret entrance concealed behind a book case, speakeasy style. Mind the step as you enter the low-ceilinged, softly-lit bar area where you can mingle with the performers before and after the show. Chill on a plush couch in one of the velvet-draped interleading rooms, before heading into the intimate 40-seater theatre.

Performances lasting 75 minutes are at 7pm and 9pm, and if you want to have a night of it, make a dinner reservation at the QVS18 restaurant by calling 021 424 5586.

The man behind Cape Town Magic Club is magician and motivational speaker Marcel Oudejans. “About six years ago, I was having a chat with two of my friends who are both magicians, Jacques le Sueur (Cape Town) and John Lenahan (London),” he says.

“John was here from the UK for a comedy festival, so we spent time together. I was bemoaning the fact that we didn’t really have a good regular magic show in Cape Town, and John shared his experiences about launching Monday Night Magic in London, and the idea of doing a weekly magic show similar to a comedy club where there would be several magicians on the bill. Jacques and I agreed that this would be a good idea... and then the idea was put on hold.”

Cut to about a year ago when Oudejans saw the venue at the Cape Town Club. It brought back the conversation about Monday Night Magic, and he decided to pursue the idea and turn it into reality.

Monday Night Magic was started in London almost 20 years ago by Lenahan as a way for magicians there to showcase their skills. A group of New York magicians also began a regular Monday night show 15 years ago for the same reason, and discovered London was using the Monday Night Magic name. They agreed to then share the “brand name” as a way to link the London and New York shows.

“There’s no formal agreement, but they’re associated and the producers in the two cities speak regularly and appear at each other’s shows,” he explains. “Monday Night Magic in New York is the longest running off-Broadway magic show.

“When John and I spoke earlier this year I told him about CTMC and the possible Monday Night Magic link. He spoke to the New York producers, who agreed we could also share the show title... as long as when they come to Cape Town they could perform here. Of course we said yes!”

With Cape Town Magic Club, Oudejans wanted to create a venue where people could regularly see magic, particularly local talent.

“I want to gather a wide range of magicians with different styles, ages and talents to perform, as well as create a platform to showcase young talent who need performance experience. It is a space to test new material and ideas.”

A bonus is that Oudejans gets to play with his friends and hang out after the show, which makes him very happy. It’s a lot of fun for us normal people too, but do keep an eye on your watch if some of these guys get too close…

Tickets are R150 via Quicket (www.magic.capetown/tickets/), all credit cards and EFTs accepted. A limited number of tickets may be on sale at the door before the show, but with cash or Snapscan only. Seating is unreserved and the club’s smart casual dress code applies. The theatre bar opens at 6pm with last rounds at 10.45pm. No under-13s.

l See www.magic.capetown, email [email protected], or call 083 229 9550.