Extra Review: Bullet Catch, The Arches

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CAPTIVATING, thought-provoking, intense and gripping — all words which describe one-man show Bullet Catch to a tee.

And yet, an unassuming Rob Drummond slinks onto the Arches stage, offering up a slow-paced, thoughtful piece of theatre/illusion/philosophical lecture without the bells and whistles you’d associate with a show about a death-defying magic trick.

The 2012 Fringe hit is back at the Glasgow venue as part of a world tour (stops including London, New York, Sydney and Hong Kong) , once again delving into the story of William Henderson, a Victorian magician who died at the hands of an audience member while attempting the infamous illusion which gives the show its name.

Drummond performs a few tricks in order to select an audience member before echoing the events of Henderson’s death, slowly prompting the randomly-selected stage fellow to share insights into his or her own life, in order to draw parallels between the ill-fated magician and his reluctant killer.

There are a few bells and whistles moments, undoubtedly — but these are broken down by Drummond himself, who offers insight into how the illusion works (although those who don’t want to know are entirely welcome to close their eyes and keep the magic alive).

But the show’s real triumph lies in the interactions between the rather likeable, self-effacing performer and his audience member — plucked from the stalls, dressed up (quite literally) in someone else’s clothes, but coaxed into sharing points of their own life.

It’s a tactic which could, it’s easy to imagine, backfire — but on this night, the willing guinea pig (a southsider, no less) provides ample material for our musing magician, and the result is a piece of theatre not about magic, but about human interaction, and the minute hope that reaching out to a similar-minded soul can save even the most hopeless case.

There is, of course, the moment of truth; the pistol is loaded with a marked bullet, the now exposed audience member takes aim at Drummond’s mouth and a piercing shot rings out.

After an hour in the intimate company of both — and knowledge of the fate of William Henderson and so many others who went before him — there’s a nagging feeling of apprehension that something could very well go wrong.

Thankfully, that’s not the case on Friday night — and it’s a good thing too, because Rob Drummond’s unique blend of theatrics, magic and musings on human interaction deserve to be seen by many, many more.

Bullet Catch runs until Sunday, October 13 — time and ticket info available at The Arches website.