Back on the magic map: Amsterdam Magic Show
You’ll often hear Amsterdam described as a ‘magical’ or ‘enchanting’ city. But while many visitors can’t help but fall under Amsterdam’s metaphorical spell, few are aware that tucked away in an ancient corner of the old town, inside a charming vintage theatre, real magic is at work.
Amsterdam has long held an allure for magicians and mystics. In the seventeenth century, the city became a centre of occultism thanks to its liberal, ‘anything goes’ climate which meant that books were able to be published here that could not be printed anywhere else. Those glory days of the Golden Age may be over, but that doesn’t mean that the magic has disappeared from the city. And so on a dark, stormy Amsterdam night I found myself weaving through cobbles and canals in the oldest part of Amsterdam and entering the red velvet-clad world of the Amsterdam Magic Show.
Founded by mentalists and magicians Alex Blackwood and Fritz with a Z, the Amsterdam Magic Show is a gathering of magicians, mentalists and illusionists who meet once a month with the self-proclaimed aim of putting Amsterdam ‘back on the map’, magically speaking.
English language magic show in Amsterdam
The show – which is the only English language magic show in Amsterdam – has already established itself as a European centre for magic entertainment, regularly attracting some of the biggest names on the international circuit to perform in the frankly gorgeous surroundings of the Paleis van de Weemoed. Located in De Wallen, the oldest part of the city, the tiny venue is an homage to the decadence of the 1920s – all warm lighting, wood panelling and sumptuous red curtains. It’s the perfect place to forget the world outside and disappear down a rabbit hole of smoke and mirrors – and with complimentary glass of Prosecco in hand, we took our seats and waited for the magic to begin.
Each month the show hosts a different line-up of magic performers, but tonight’s headliner is the likeable Timon Krause – a Berlin born, Amsterdam based mind-reader with a smashing head of hair and a following of whooping American fans thanks to a recent appearance on Penn & Teller in the US.
Headliner Timon Krause (photo: Maria Cavali)
After a warm up by compere and co-founder Fritz (with a Z) and a short mind-reading act by local mentalist Victor Norbart, Timon enters the stage to a rock star’s welcome and announces that he is about to ‘Officially Mindfuck’ us all. Everyone seems to be on board with this idea, and over the next hour Timon comes good on his promise with a selection of comical mind-reading and hypnotism tricks involving various volunteers from the audience. A man called Jack (from Jacksonville, as chance would have it) unwittingly gives away his pin code while an American girl named Sarah is convincingly hypnotised into believing she’s drunk, thinking that her friends are naked, and forgetting various details – including her own name and how to count.
At one point Timon fails to read an audience member correctly but then realises it’s because the man has another name at the forefront of his thoughts that evening, blocking Timon’s abilities. When Timon correctly identifies the name of the man’s recently deceased grandmother and passes on a message from the other side, both parties are visibly affected, and Timon needs to leave the stage for a few minutes to take some time out. Is it all part of the act? Can it be real? From my front row seat, it feels authentic enough.
The show’s grand finale involves multiple audience members, some chairs, envelopes and apparent free will, and although Timon still seems a little shaken from his earlier foray into the spirit world it all comes together into a wonderfully baffling climax that leaves us all (or me, at least) in a bit of a bewildered daze. And that, I suppose, is the point. The show ends in rapturous applause, and everyone heads to the bar to work out what the hell has just happened. I guess the short answer is that we’ve all been Officially Mindfucked. And I, for one, rather liked it.
Amsterdam Magic Show returns to the Paleis van Weemoed on December 6 with another international line-up. Tickets cost 17,50 euros in advance (including a glass or Prosecco on arrival) and it’s worth noting that due to the small venue size shows sell out in advance – so hurry over to amsterdam-magic.com to get your ticket.