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Illusionist Chris Wood amazing Bromley with close-up magic shows

PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 September 2013

Chris is often accused of blowing smoke, but only in the name of magic.

Chris is often accused of blowing smoke, but only in the name of magic.

Archant

When the likes of Dynamo or David Blaine pull off unfathomable trickery, many may be inspired to reach for a deck of cards.

Though the temptation to peak behind the curtain is always there, it can often leave people disappointed to find a man pulling levers rather than the mythical wizard – to borrow a Hollywood analogy.

Bromley magician, Chris Wood, thinks audiences are best left in the dark about how tricks are done as the truth can often be “too simple”.

The 51-year-old sleight of hand expert runs The Close Up Show, at The Churchill Theatre, where three magicians dazzle audiences with tricks inches from their face.

Though he says the Magic Circle is becoming less secretive, Chris is still a firm believer that audiences are best left bemused.

“I always say we are very proud that we don’t reveal our tricks,” he says.

“The majority of tricks are very simple and as soon as you expose that no one wants to see it.

“Keeping the secrets is part protecting your livelihood, but mostly it’s about not revealing the Wizard of Oz and keeping the illusion.”

It was a misspent youth that saw Chris develop his card skills, as he and a few friends would visit their local pub to cheat at three card brag.

He says he didn’t have “the stomach” for a life of petty swindling, and so went off in search of a magical mentor, who he found in the shape of renowned escapologist Alan Alan.

He said: “I went into a shop asking for a really obscure book on cards and the guy behind the counter asked me to show him what I could do.

“He took a liking to me and that was Alan. Every Saturday for about five years I would go to his home and learn new tricks. He got me to a good level, but then I got married and ended up going back to college.”

Chris trained to become a primary school teacher and his current daytime job is with Grid for Learning, a charity which provides for schools.

However, a “mid-life crisis” led him to rekindle his love affair with the world of illusion and misdirection.

“I bought myself a big motorbike and got back into magic, it was a classic mid-life crisis. I joined the Magic Circle and found I could hold my own against most of them.”

Little more than three years ago Chris began performing in public and decided to set up The Close Up Show, which allows tables of up to 20 people to be entertained by three magicians during an evening.

Chris says his shows are magic’s answer to comedy clubs and offer almost all members of the audience the chance to be involved in at least one trick throughout the night. The shows are now spreading to Sevenoaks and Epsom, where he is hoping their success will continue.

“All the shows out there, like Derren Brown, seem to be one performer on a stage. There’s no variety, so that’s what I’m aiming to showcase.”

Though he aims to amaze, Chris says you’re in the wrong business if you’re looking to fool people. He added: “No one likes a smarty pants, they want someone with a cheeky grin and a twinkle in their eye.

“I do enjoy having intelligent people fooled, though. When someone shakes their head and says ‘but magic doesn’t exist’, that’s when you know you’ve done it right.”

To book your place at one of Chris’ Bromley shows this month, visit thecloseupshow.co.uk.

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