Magic show

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  • Intro

    Illusionists and spiritualists were popular attractions in Victorian theatres and exhibition halls: audiences could sit amazed as ghosts appeared on stage and automata solved mathematical puzzles. Renowned performers appeared to levitate, slice the heads off spectators and escape out of locked boxes. This poster advertises the 'marvellous entertainments' provided by magicians Maskelyne and Cooke at London's Egyptian Hall. 

     

    John Maskelyne and George Cooke took over the Egyptian Hall Theatre in Piccadilly in 1873 and made it the centre of stage magic in London. Hugely popular, they billed themselves as "Royal Illusionists and Anti-Spiritualists", taking a competitive stand against stage magicians who tried to convince audiences that their illusions were "magical" or "spiritual". In this same spirit, Maskelyne and Cooke exposed as fakes an American magic duo, the Davenport Brothers, by performing the Davenports' act and telling audiences how each trick was done. They blended comedy, illusion and conjuring, changing their act frequently to ensure that audiences were never bored.

  • Video

Find out more about the Magic show Here

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