WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
WHAT THE INTERNET SAYS
JOANNA GENTILLI, The West Australian July 12, 2010
Like the puppeteers of Japanese Bunraku, the two performers of Spirit Fingers are dressed all in black and the audience agrees not to see them. Instead the focus is on their hands and what extraordinary hands they are.
The viewer becomes completely mesmerised by the strange disembodied power of these 16 fingers and four thumbs.
The show opens to the haunting sound of the cello, which creates a suitably nostalgic atmosphere for a performance that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.
There are no flourished cloaks or garbled spells, this is magic taken seriously as a meaningful art form. Instead they work with the simplest of props, pieces of string, cards and bottles that are unpacked from a battered suitcase.
Although some of the effects are visually extraordinary, the feeling of the production is simple. For example, the play with string is reminiscent of the old "cat's cradle" game and the clever fingers of "two little dickie birds". Both powerfully recall the fascination of childhood.
They wanted to let "the magic speak for itself and see whether it stands up". It does so to resounding applause.
MAGIC MATT'S FULLY LOADED
GORDON THE OPTOM, Theatre Australia 10/11/12
Tommy Cooper was acknowledged for decades as one of the funniest men in the theatre. Of course, this Welshman was most famous for his unique style of magic, where the tricks appear to be going rapidly downhill and then at the last minute, miraculously the magic works. Sadly, 28 years ago, half way through his act, Tommy died on live TV thus leaving a huge void – and then Matt Penny came along.
Matt has the same madcap humour, the Red Fez, the blunderings that hide his 30 years of hard-learnt skills of creating illusions and magic. Matt has one of the biggest followings of any solo entertainer in the Perth area, with his shows always packed out.
When pushed, most people can sing a song or tell a joke, however, the vast majority would struggle to do a single magic trick badly, and only one in a thousand could do it well. Here Matt does 75 minutes of hilarious, inimitable magic. Averaging around a trick a minute, he galloped through scores of sleight of hand.
This not the over produced David Copperfield illusion that leaves you cold, but close-up prestidigitation that leaves you asking repeatedly ‘How did that happen?’
When the technicians and theatre staff laugh, then you know that the show is something special. Another wonderful night of perplexity.
MAGIC MATT AND THE NAKED ASSISTANT
GORDON THE OPTOM, Theatre Australia, 14 / 2 / 12
Matt Penny has been presenting magic for years, and has a huge cult following, however this is the first time I have seen his ‘adults only’ show. With the style of Tommy Cooper he blunders his way through a myriad of very different styles of tricks, and always comes out the other end leaving the open mouthed.
He peppers the show with jokes that will make you cringe, but roar with laughter. I have seen Matt’s show several times before, and each time the tricks are new and mindboggling.
This time we were promised a naked assistant, many suspected it would be his male assistant, but no, he presented the genuinely beautiful ‘Megan’. Very quickly it became obvious that she wasn’t a bimbo that simply points as the illusions take place, she acted as , and appeared well versed in the magic routine. She then carried out, for the first time in Australia, the Ursula Martinez striptease trick. The little red handkerchief vanished and reappeared with astonishing ease considering that she was wearing only her birthday suit. Megan then carried on to perform several other tricks most competently. Her magic was so good that it was easy to forget that she was nude. At one stage the sparks started to fly – but I won’t say from where! As the ovation told her, Megan can be proud of her performance at all levels.
The act finished with a duet, and wild applause. A great night of fun from two entertaining magicians.
GORDON THE OPTOM, Theatre Australia, 14 / / 7 / 10
On a darkened stage the two performers, dressed in black, started their silent performance of dexterity and fun that kept the adults, as well as the youngsters, gasping. There were a few illusions, and the occasional old fun tricks (the hocus pocus cup and the tubes and bottles) delivered in the bungling Tommy Cooper style, but most of the show was quality, hard-learned, sleight of hand and palming from two of Perth's top prestidigitators (fast finger workers).
So sure of their magical skills, were Matt Penny and Christopher Kenworthy that they even issued binoculars so their tricks could be seen in close up.
In my far and distant youth, my hobby was magic, and yet now, how many children have even seen any quality, well-presented magic? On asking the average person in the street to name a magician, they will undoubtedly say David Copperfield, the ego driven illusionist. Almost a generation has passed without any one seeing a magic based, theatrical production.
Some may argue that the Blue Room should only be presenting ‘acting’, well magic is acting, and it is a presentation that few can conquer. It must be a couple of decades since TV’s Paul Daniels thrilled his with fun delivered magic, now is Perth’s chance to see two quality magicians in action. With excellent lighting from Joe Lui and Matt Penny’s exciting soundscape, created specifically for their tricks, with all the appropriate crescendos.
Yes I really enjoyed this show. My only complaint? It is far too late for the average child to attend, and believe me this is a Blue room show that children of all ages can attend and will love. Truly magical.
Matt Penny has been working magician for 25 years but has a plethora of strings to his bow.
In his many years in the entertainment industry he been an actor, director, writer, composer, animator, short film maker and part-time Karma Sutra model (only one of those is untrue). He uses his skills in the various different sectors to enhance his magic performances.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF MAGIC MATT
MAGIC SHOW PAST AND PRESENT
The Magic Matt Show @ The Blue Room Studio
Magic Slam 2009/10/11 @ various venues
Spirit Fingers @ The Blue Room
The Magic Matt Show Live @ Matt's front room and streamed live on the web.
Magic Matt's Micro Magic @ The Blue Room
Magic Matt's Massive Micro Magic @ Perth Cultural Centre
Magic Matt and the Naked Assistant @ Fringeworld
Magic Matt Fully Loaded @ Freo Fest and Fringeworld
EXPERIMENTS IN MIND-READING AND CROWD COHESION
Matt first found an interest in magic when an Uncle in Chicago taught him how to do the 3 card monte or find the lady. It's the same one they do on the streets of New York to hustle unsuspecting tourists. After an afternoon learning how to do it and then hustling all the loose change from his family Matt was ready to hit the streets and start a career as a grifter. Unfortunately he was on holiday and actually lived in a quiet, leafy suburb in South London but it had sparked a lifelong passion for grifting, I mean magic.
After spending a couple of years at catering college (yes ladies, he's a qualified chef) Matt found that performing magic at tables doubled his tips and he decided to take things a little more seriously. Before coming to Australia he was resident magician at TGI Fridays in Covent Garden and Planet Hollywood in Leister Square.
Matt spent five years working the tables as a close-up magician in restaurants in Fremantle before moving North of the river and devising shows for The Blue Room Theatre in Northbridge and the Fringe Festival.
Matt has written and directed plays, acted for theatre and film and written music for shows but always seems to gravitate back to his first love, magic.
“They wanted to let 'the magic speak for itself and see whether it stands up'. It does so to resounding applause."
JOANNA GENTILLI, The West Australian July 12, 2010
“Hollywood Private Hospital has used Matt Penny five times as the MC for its regular staff revues held at the Subiaco Theatre Centre. Matt has always worked well with us as he is reliable, co-operative, friendly, flexible and professional. Matt warmed up the audience before the show, introduced each act and entertained between acts with a variety of jokes, banter and magic tricks. We have always considered Matt an important part of the revue’s success. I have no hesitation in recommending him.”
Stage Manager - Hollywood Revue
Supply & Purchasing Manager
Hollywood Private Hospital
"This is the second year Magic Matt has played himself as the tour guide for our show 'Rottnest - After Dark'. He is an intrigal part of the show and somehow manages to keep the crowd entertained and laughing.
I've worked with Matt on a number of theatre pieces in the past and when we wrote this show we always had Matt in mind for the part of tour guide.
'Rottnest - After Dark' is a roving history lesson and Matt manages to combine the scripted parts of the show with clever impovised material when the need arises (which is quite frequently for this kind of show).
I have seen Matt perform as a magician, actor and director and would not hesitate to work with him again. I hope he's available for our show next year."