By Jay Menard
London-born magician Lupi puts a new twist on some traditional tricks in Vision Quest. Actually, that may not be completely accurate — Lupi embraces his traditional roots to add new flair to some familiar magical acts. And in the end, he is able to present something that feels completely fresh, innovative, and wholly entertaining.
Lupi is Chippewa of the Thames-born and states early on in the production that he has been endeavouring to teach himself the values of the Ojibwe. Over a pulsing soundtrack of A Tribe Called Red, Lupi integrates stories from the Mishomis Book: Voices of the Ojibway (sic) into his magical presentation.
If you think this adds depth to each and every trick during the show, you’ll be floored by the end of the show when you see how the seemingly independent acts are interrelated. It’s a welcome twist on traditional magic and the fact that we, as a heavily invested and involved crowd, get there together is a testament to Lupi’s skill.
There’s a healthy infusion of implied danger in the show, as well. Knife throwing and a guillotine are involved.
I hesitate to use the term edutainment, but Lupi’s presentation effectively combines folklore and magic in a way that allows us to be both entertained and to learn a little more about the culture.
It’s not a perfect show. Lupi, at times, seems a little nervous — especially when telling his stories and setting up the tricks. He can resort to rapidly pacing back and forth across the stage, which can minimize the impact of his speech. But as he grows more comfortable and confident in his presentation, he’s going to be that much more powerful. And there’s a hypnotism segment that needs to be bulked up to established the foundation of the hypnosis a bit more. But those are easily fixable items.
Local magic fans will note that Lupi is ably assisted by Mr. Eman, London magic legend (h/t to Melony Holt for the info), which bodes well for Lupi’s continued development.
Overall, Vision Quest is an entertaining magic show that adds a touch of culture and variety to the discipline. It will be fun — and informative — to watch Lupi’s progression over the years.
**** — four out of five stars
This review originally appeared on theatreinlondon.ca