Review: Magic for Animals, Liz Toonkel, Ed Fringe, By Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

I’m not a reader of a synopsis or a review before I see a show. I prefer to be surprised and to make my own opinion. But I couldn’t help but see the title of this and expect tricks that animals may enjoy. Such as the tricks you see owners do on Tik Tok to a surprised dog, cat, lizard. But this was something different to my assumption and I’m glad it was.

Magic for Animals by Liz Toonkel is a quintessential magic show, meets informative, activist piece on animal cruelty and our impact on animals and the planet.

Toonkel is nothing but glamorous and beautiful, kind, warm and welcoming. It’s a small audience but she takes the time to engage with each of us and utilises the small audience well, making us feel included and her friends. She is dressed in sparkles and a wonderful hairdo, reflecting the traditional magician, meets his glamorous assistant and a bit of sparkle and pizzazz. This isn’t just for the looks of it but her outfit soon becomes part of the act and therefore provides a well rounded performance.

The tricks are of course impressive. Toonkel is self aware and vulnerable and very talented in her magic acts. This soon becomes clear that she uses magic as a way of telling stories and providing information on animals and the cruelty brought on them for our food, fashion and so much more. The tricks are almost like an unusual seminar show and tell and it is effective.

Whether this be due to the smaller audience, there is at times a little beat missing with the atmosphere. There are times that feel a little awkward, sometimes the telling of stories are a little long and sometimes there isn’t quite enough magic. Don’t get me wrong, the concept and approach is fantastic, the audience interaction on par but there were times where it could have done with being a little punchier. Some of the awkwardness could maybe be filled with a background music, more like a magic show and wouldn’t take away from Toonkel’s important messaging.

Like any good magic show, the conclusion wraps up each topic, each trick into one and Toonkel is humble and engaging as ever at the round up.

Magic for Animals is a unique and interesting topic and concept. It is enjoyable and fun and Toonkel is utterly charming. It just needs a little tweaking to keep the momentum.

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