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Review: Maho Magic Bar


Tokyo-inspired bar + magic tricks = one very entertaining evening.

Returning to Sydney after a sold-out run at last year’s Sydney Festival, Maho Magic Bar brings the vibes. With an impressive cocktail list, energetic team of magicians, and slick pop-up bar right outside Star Casino, you won’t lose money taking a gamble on this show.

Maho Magic Bar, produced by Broad Encounters, is less traditional magic show and more magic-meets-martini-meets-Nippon (Japan). Run in a purpose-built space on Pyrmont Bay Park, the one-hour show features a five-person cast of magicians. These magicians, all from Japan, perform an array of card, ballon swallowing, and disappearing object tricks. Each one rotates around the rectangular space, which has four bar tables set up along its edges and a large central table. Interludes between magic sets feature displays of acrobatic bartending, dancing, and audience participation in tricks performed to the whole room. Unlucky (or perhaps not) for the newlyweds or adventurous couples in attendance.

Maho Magic Bar. Photo credit Anna Kucera.

The joy of Maho Magic Bar is its simplicity. No magician takes themselves too seriously. The drinks are delicious and ever-flowing. The background music is pulsating and upbeat. The tricks are not grandiose displays of earth-shattering illusions. Indeed, that’s not the point. The point is to have harmless fun, and that’s exactly what happens.

Maho Magic Bar. Photo credit Anna Kucera.

Much can also be said of its Japanese cultural roots. The space is beautifully designed with shelves stocking Japanese whiskey, cherry blossoms in the centre of the room, and its infamous neon-covered exterior. Beyond these material elements, however, the show subliminally educates audiences about the role magic plays in Japan. It is a means of entertainment and social connection, of bringing people together. It is a combination of mysticism, wisdom, and humour, incorporating the ideas of traditional Japan with those of its new one. And again, none of this is expressed overwhelmingly. It is melded into the experience of the show, making it all the more profound.

Maho Magic Bar. Photo credit Jeff Busby.

Ultimately, nothing more needs to be said. Beyond being an Instagrammer’s dream – which it unashamedly is – Maho Magic Bar is simply a fun evening out. Which is something we can all benefit from during these times.

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