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A Disappearing Act. Stantonbury Theatre.

I took my seat and thought I had come to Stantonbury Theatre to see Philip Winterbottom perform some of his outstanding magic. Sadly, it seems he had passed away and I found myself instead at his funeral. His son, Brandon, came up to me and thanked me for coming and how respectful it was that I wore black. He greeted all the guests (audience members) personally and we were given an order of service (this could be considered a programme).

He said his dad wanted to have a final performance and had left specific instructions. Joined by his dad’s assistant, Nicola, we participated in the most bizarre funeral I have ever attended.

Nicola came around with tissues and cried a lot. She said she found it helpful to laugh and then cry. Yet the next moment we were dancing to salsa and doing the conga. We continued the conga up onto the stage where we took our seats. (A very clever way to get everyone up on the stage). Some very cheesy magic followed but Brandon was never the magician that his dad was. He was simply trying to carry out Philip’s last wish.

Members of the audience were picked out to play parts such as Brandon’s mum, Brenda, who happened to be sitting next to me. She was really distressed and over the top that I did consider that she was a stooge as she was so good at her role. She wasn’t. It made me question my own acting Lamda exams. Her over-acting fitted the feel of the show perfectly. Ajay, Brandon’s cousin was also in the crowd and came on to perform some fantastic magic that made Brandon look really bad at his attempts. A third member of the audience was Philip’s best friend and his plant. (She read bits from items placed around the stage – it fondly reminded me of The Generation Game). Everyone was involved in doing something at one point in the show…sorry service. It was very inclusive and participative.

This show is really outstanding and in all my years of reviewing, I have never experienced anything quite like this. It’s extremely funny despite the subject matter and feels very intimate. It’s a very small audience so you really feel part of it. Its just wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed my small part in the show.

Please note there is no interval in the show and running time is 65 minutes.

You have to buy a ticket and experience this show – I promise you that it’s the most fun funeral you will ever attend.

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