One of my rare trips to see a play was last night, Kim Newman’s ‘The Magic Circle’.
I’m a fan of Newman’s novels and short stories (the Anno Dracula series, Diogenes Club etc.) and this was promoted at the launch of his Anno Dracula comic.
It’s a 90 minute long, two-hander, set in one room (and the 1970’s); a young and trendy college professor is trying to perform a magic ritual to save the world when he’s interrupted by a police detective who wants to know if he’s connected to the terrible crimes that were recently committed in the house?
It’s fun, Newman writes good dialogue and he knows his pop culture archetypes better than most. My only issue really is that the ending is a bit rushed, but it still works.
The two actors were terrific, the professor is a good role but the detective has all the quirks and they both had fun with the piece.
The venue though, was function room at a London club, it was not really a theatre, for performance. I’ve been there before to see talks and lectures on TV and other media, and it’s fine for that, but the people at the back were basically attending a radio play for all that they could see.
The nature of the venue also meant that there were occasionally waiters bringing in drinks and food.
The theatre company could, perhaps, have helped themselves a little by starting the play with a call for quiet? Instead, the lead actor came out and started arranging props, it was a couple of minutes before I realised he was already in character and that the play had started!
A lot of other people, who couldn’t see him clearly, just carried on chatting.
But, as I say, good play. it’ll probably be on BBC radio at some point, and worth a listen.