- Matt Trueman
- 6 August 2012
This article is from 2012.
Nerve-shredding re-enactment of the riskiest stunt of all
‘Magic’s riskiest stunt’ entails catching a speeding bullet between the teeth. In William Henderson’s case, it carried on, through bone and brain and back out the other side. Afterwards Charles Gaunt, the audience volunteer that pulled the trigger, stood stock-still for two whole minutes, then suffered total recoil.
Rob Drummond doesn’t merely re-enact that calamitous attempt, he reincarnates it, blending theatre and magic so that each doubles the other’s charge. We know these are tricks, but we also know that tricks can go fatally wrong. An audience member unwittingly stands in for Gaunt and where Houdini cautioned Henderson against the bullet catch, Drummond pulls out a health and safety warning of his own. He is, after all, treading in the footsteps of a dead man. Henderson’s ghost seems to hover overhead.
Pulse-quickening certainly, but also quietly profound, Bullet Catch prods the twin philosophies of nihilism and determinism, both popular during Henderson’s heyday. If we’ve no control over life, have we any reason to live? Or is facing down a Colt semi-automatic entirely rational? The gunshot itself might be anti-climactic, but the broken bottle roulette beforehand is nerve-shredding.
Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 26 Aug (not 13, 20), times vary, £17--£19 (£12--£14).