There is magic in "Bullet Catch."
The illusion has assumed many monikers over its long, illustrious career - the bullet trick, the gun trick, or most commonly, the bullet catch - but the wonder and awe it instills has remained constant. Written and performed by Rob Drummond, the Edinburgh incarnation of this infamous trick offers its audience even more.
The illusion is exactly what one would expect. An intrepid (and likely unhinged) magician invites an individual to shoot him, and as he hovers on that gossamer line between life and death, he catches the bullet. Though it has been caught in small tins, boxes, and other steely receptacles, Drummond promises to arrest the speeding bullet between his teeth.
Throughout the piece, the illusionist shocks and awes with ease. His sleight of hand and apparent powers of divination are truly wondrous. He draws a clean line between reality and impossibility and promptly defiles it, all the while gaining the trust of his audience. This, beyond his magic, is Drummond's most winning quality - he is likable. And this likability leads to confidence, which leads to trust. The magic can begin.
But the show is not just cards and top hats and illusion. It is narrative, and beautiful narrative at that. Drummond relates his own artistry and his own experience with the bullet catch to that of magician William Henderson, who was supposedly shot to death by an unassuming audience volunteer in 1912 while attempting this very same stunt. Discussions of magic, spirituality, free will, and friendship are seamlessly woven into this fragile and evocative piece, much surrounding Drummond's carefully selected audience volunteer. This young woman underwent several very public trials for selection, remaining on stage and active in Drummond's illusions and story-telling for the large majority of the show.
When the hour is nearly up, Drummond turns to his stoic volunteer, someone with whom he has become quick friends thanks to the tenuous constraints of their meeting.
"I think you know what I'm going to ask you to do," Drummond says to her quietly. The audience is completely still, ears plugged, bodies and minds braced for impact.
BULLET CATCH plays the Traverse Theatre.