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Facilitators of Mirth

How the magician’s assistant creates the illusion

Comedian and theatrical academic Naomi Paxton researches the history of suffragists and the theatre, and appears as alter-ego Ada Campe, who has been nominated for Best Variety Act at the Chortle Awards 2019. She is also the reigning winner of the New Act of the Year at the NATYS and the Leicester Square Theatre Old Comedian of the Year. 

Naomi used to perform on stage as a Magicians assistant, and in this fantastic piece, written for the Wellcome Collection, she reveals how the role gave her the confidence to emerge on stage as not just a surprise or a novelty, but as a skilled performer capable of making the magic happen herself. 

Colluding with an audience that wants to believe, the magician’s assistant has her own armoury of tricks to help maintain the illusion. Performer Naomi Paxton takes us inside the ingenious world of onstage magic;

'I’m inside a gaudily painted wooden box on a stage, trying not to move a muscle and keeping my breath light and quiet. The audience can’t see me but I catch glimpses of them through tiny cracks in the wood, the stage lights reflecting in their wide eyes. It feels naughty and exciting to be in here, like playing hide and seek. 

In a minute or so when my cue comes, I’ll slip off the top layer of my costume, get in position and prepare to reappear in what seems like a different outfit and from what seems like a tiny space. It’s magic. The audience applaud, delighted that they have been fooled.

When I first started working as a magician’s assistant in a late-night cabaret show in a small central-London theatre, I couldn’t have anticipated just how much it would change my performing life. Stage magic and illusion had not, unsurprisingly, been part of my training at university and drama school, but they opened up a whole new world of stagecraft, audience interaction, pacing and physicality that helped me unlearn and relearn ways to be and communicate on stage, as well as to direct and focus the attention of audiences.'

Read the article in full, here


How the magician’s assistant creates the illusion How the magician’s assistant creates the illusion

News story posted on 17-04-2019 14:00

Tape Face heads to Beijing!

Mime with noise, stand-up with no talking – drama with no acting. Tape Face has to be seen to be believed, and this Spring he will take to the stage in Beijing, China, for 24 very special, extremely rare, dates.

Sam Wills, AKA Tape Face is a character with universal appeal. Delightful, wry, many-layered and hilarious, Wills accesses an inner child in us all that must be fed. Through simple, clever and charming humour aimed at satisfying that hunger, Tape Face has created one of the most accessible and enjoyable performances the world has ever seen.

Tickets are now on sale, to see Tape Face in action at the Haidian Theatre, from Thursday 25th April to Sunday 19th May 2019. Click here to grab your tickets now

Tape Face heads to Beijing!

News story posted on

Now on sale: The Three Deaths of Ebony Black

On sale today: The Three Deaths of Ebony Black at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - tickets

A critically acclaimed puppet musical, inspired by a neuroscientist.

Described as Death at a Funeral meets The Muppets, this intimate spectacle is as impressive as it is tender... with songs and vomiting puppets to boot! Three acts, ten puppets, one corpse. An unforgettable farce and a love letter to lives well lived. A touching adventure, a puppetry romp and a hilarious farce. Original music by award winning writer/composers Amberly Cull and Robert Woods, with handmade puppets by Danny Miller. Performed by Cull and Nick Pages-Oliver.

Gag Reflex are super excited to be working with Nick Pages-Oliver and Amberly Cull this year; Originally from Perth, Amberly graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She has worked in a number of successful stage and screen productions including established improvised comedic theatre troupes Impromptunes and The Big Hoo Haa, and the Australian tour of Avenue Q as Kate/Lucy. Screen credits include ABC comedies Trip for Biscuits, The Chinaboy Show, and DAFUQ. A talented writer as well as versatile performer, Amberly has written and starred in sketches for online content, including Insert Coin, a YouTube comedy channel for gamers. Her award winning musical The Point Of Light toured Australia and was one of six Australian musicals to be featured in Home Grown’s The Grassroots Initiative.

Her show promises to be incredible - get your tickets now, before it becomes the cult hit of the Fringe

Now on sale: The Three Deaths of Ebony Black

News story posted on 15-04-2019 15:00

Medical drama at a medical comedy

Comedian Adam Kay was overwhelmed by the audience reaction this week, after a fan collapsed during his theatre show. The former junior doctor was performing a show at London’s Garrick Theatre, part of a 13 date run at the venue, on his UK Spring Tour, when an audience member fell ill.

The show, often described as a ‘Love letter to the NHS’ is based on Adam's former experiences as a junior doctor, and provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. It has, as you would expect, struck a chord with NHS employees, as well as readers worldwide, having now been translated into 33 languages. It means that fortunately, there were dozens of health workers around, to lend a hand.

Kay, whose award winning memoirs ‘This Is Going To Hurt - Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor’ has sold over a million copies, said he was aware of a ‘kerfuffle’ in the dress circle seats on Monday night. He halted his performance, and discovered an audience member had collapsed. Without pausing for thought, “dozens” of off-duty NHS medical staff rushed to offer first aid.

"As soon as the lights went on, there was a literal swarm of doctors, it shows that when you’re a doctor you’re never off duty. Without stopping to think, their reaction was to get up and help, underlying my belief that my shows are the safest place in any city to have an emergency. There were probably more doctors in that room than in University College Hospital around the corner. Thankfully, it was fine — it turned out to be a simple faint. But when someone faints it is scary. The poor person was taken into the fresh air of Leicester Square and given a glass of water."

He added on Twitter: The NHS is full of heroes and they're NEVER off duty. Is it weird for a comedian to be proud of their audience?

'This Is Going to Hurt' – his theatre show, is on Tour nationwide – dates available here. Award-winning comedian Adam Kay shares entries from his diaries as a junior doctor in this ‘electrifying’ (Guardian) evening of stand-up and music.

Absolute sell-out Edinburgh Fringe 2016, 2017 & 2018, Soho Theatre 2017, UK tour and West End 2018.

The accompanying book, ‘This is Going to Hurt‘ available here, is a Sunday Times bestseller, and is being turned into a major BBC series.

Medical drama at a medical comedy Medical drama at a medical comedy

News story posted on 03-04-2019 16:00

Tape Face xT2

The TAPE FACE show is a worldwide sensation and is now a firm resident of the Las Vegas strip, in his uniquely customised theatre - The House of Tape, at Harrah's Casino.

This silent sensation creates an eccentric, whimsical experience that can be enjoyed by all ages, background and languages. As seen on America’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent: The Champions, this is a comedy show with a difference.  It’s utterly spectacular and endlessly inventive. “TAPE FACE” is the creation of New Zealand comedian Sam Wills, and he’s created a killer cast for you nightly at The House of Tape inside Harrah's Las Vegas.  This is a Vegas must see.

Demand for Tape Face is now so huge, that after a lot of hard work, training and many, many rolls of tape, Wills has trained up his very own 'T2', who will be appearing in Vegas on occasion, who will enable Sam to continue to perform around the world to fans. Tape Face has personally guaranted the show quality as 100% Tape Face approved. T2 already has a number of performances under his belt, and is getting standing ovations, sold out crowds and amazing reviews.

"this is very much a project in development. T2 has undergone serious show training and he does bring his own clown qualities to the show rather than trying to ‘be’ me. What we are providing is the Tape Face show, and that is the essence of fun, play and audience interaction. I am proud of where we are at, and am excited to keep working at making it the best possible experience for every audience around the world.I have always wanted to grow the show into a much bigger creation and I don’t just want to stop with straight up replications. I am interested in seeing a Tape Face of a different ethnicity, and a female Tape Face would be amazing, as it would change aspects of the overall comedy and open different places to challenge audiences and play and interact differently." - Tape Face

Tape Face is on Tour right now throughout the States (tickets available here), meaning T2 is carefully looking after his oven gloves and red dress, and entertaining audiences who come to see his sublime physical lunacy for themselves, live in Las Vegas. Tickets available here