Matt Penny in Find the Lady
Magic, News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

So much more than magic

Review: Matt Penny, Find the Lady ·
Subiaco Arts Centre, 6 June ·
Review by Jenny Scott ·

Find the Lady is a one-man show that weaves stage magic into the bittersweet monologues of a grifter who is propelled to fame, fortune, and ultimately, betrayal. Multi-talented local magician and theatre-maker Matt Penny stars as a small time con artist who stumbles into a career as a world class magician.

Opening with an explanation of the “three-card monte” scam (aka “find the lady”), and revealing his trick deck of cards, Penny’s hustler character first warms up the crowd with some classic playing card stunts. We then follow the swindler to a strange encounter that greatly enhances the scope of his illusionist skills. As his abilities advance, he becomes a prize-winning practitioner of magic – and the mark for someone else’s long con.

Fast talking and funny, Penny is an amiable storyteller who shares his tale as if over a pint at the pub. His casual banter is paired with nimble-fingered piano playing, nifty card tricks and simply eerie mind reading (a warning for the anxious – there is some audience participation involved!)

The winner of the 2018 Fringe World “Blaz Award”, presented to the best writing for performance by a WA writer, Find the Lady is charming and clever. With the magic tricks integrated into a narrative that transitions from cheeky to melancholy, it’s much more engaging than a traditional stage magic show. The combination of storytelling and apparent telepathy also makes this magic more unbelievable, as attested by the audible swearing of disbelief heard from an audience member on opening night.

This production is worth braving the winter weather to catch, and marks the start of what looks to be a strong Subiaco Theatre Festival season. Don’t let the rain tempt you to stay indoors this week – you’ll leave Find the Lady with a smile on your face and one question:

“How did he do that?”

Find the Lady runs until 9 June 2018.

Read an interview with Matt Penny.

Pictured top: An amiable story teller: Matt Penny in ‘Find the Lady’.

 

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Features, Magic, Performing arts, Theatre

A dedicated man of magic

Magic, piano playing, betrayal… what more could you ask for in a night out?

Matt Penny’s new show, Find the Lady combines all three.  Seesaw caught up with the WA-based magician and theatre maker to find out more.

Matt Penny

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
Matt Penny: I’ve been performing magic and putting on shows since I was a kid.  I think it was more just a need to be loved rather than any hankering to be artistic.

S: Tell us about your training…
MP: Back when I was young (last century!) the world of magicians was very different to how it is now.  These days you can learn and buy magic online but in the olden days the only way to learn was to meet other magicians and then you’d ‘swap’ tricks.  It was a much more tactile way to learn.  I was formally trained to play the piano and beaten with a stick if I didn’t do my practise. I became an actor for the glory, fame and money (sigh).

S: And your artistic practice?
MP: I have been an actor, writer, magician, mentalist, pianist, director, animator, MC and part time Karma Sutra model.   I tend to have a few projects on the go and just kind of wait for one to bubble to the surface and then go with that one.  It’s not an ideal way to work but it makes for an interesting life.

S: Career highlight so far?
MP: One year I did a show called Micro Magic.  The way it worked was that I was set up under the big screen in the Perth Cultural Centre doing close up magic on a tiny stage.  We had a camera set up on just my hands and this was streamed onto the twelve metre screen.  It was Australia Day and we managed to catch the crowd as they came back from the fireworks so about two thousand people stopped to watch this tiny magic show on the big screen.

S: Career lowlight?
MP: Performing my one man show Frank the Mind Reading Hotdog to three people in Auckland, New Zealand (one reviewer, his girlfriend and someone who worked on the bar upstairs).  Got a great review though.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
MP: I love the thrill of being onstage and, if I can, making an audience laugh.

S: What made you decide to come back to Fringe World?
MP: I’ve performed shows at every Fringe World since it started.  I don’t think I could imagine a January without preparing for a show.

S: Tell us about your 2018 Fringe show!
MP: I’ve spent a number of years trying to think of a way to combine my love of magic with my love of theatre.  Find the Lady is a piece of theatre about a con man who steals the gift of mind reading from an old friend.  It’s a rags to riches tale but fame can be fleeting when you trust the wrong people.  As soon as you get to the top people start plotting your downfall.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
MP: I’m looking forward to seeing a whole bunch of international magicians who are invading our shores this Fringe season.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
MP: Well, these things have been banned for years, but I used to love the old witch’s hat.  Look it up.

“Find the Lady” plays The Blue Room Theatre 27-28 January.

Pictured top: Matt Penny. Image by Susie Blatchford & Alex Manfrin.

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