Josh Staley: Quicker Than the Eye (Melbourne Magic Festival) – Theatre Review

I’ve been a fan of magicians for as long as I can remember.

I have adored illusionists such as Tommy Cooper or duo Penn & Teller to name but a few. What I find so entertaining about these masters of their craft is not so much the bells and whistles but their ability to have total command of an audience through comedy and their skills at sleight of hand.

This brings us to Josh Staley. In a relatively short amount of time, Staley has made a name for himself as one of the most promising and most skilled magicians in Australia. With his incredible talent, he has performed to audiences worldwide. He is the winner of multiple accolades including the Australian Junior Champion of Close-Up Magic and Best Magic Show at Adelaide Fringe Festival. Not only that, but Staley holds the impressive Guinness World Record for the longest ever magic performance clocking in at a whopping 85 hours of continuous magic!

His show Quicker Than the Eye is not as long but you may be wishing they were as the sold-out night I attended featured some of the most entertaining and constantly surprising illusions I’ve ever witnessed. Throughout the show I was left speechless in amazement as Staley presented trick after trick in rapid fire succession. You’ll be trying to figure out just how he pulled off one illusion while he’s already diving into the next!

No big spectacle, no smoke machines or other bullshit is needed for Quicker Than the Eye. This parlour style magic show takes place at Arrow on Swanston for an enraptured room. Staley has performed this particular show for similarly sold-out crowds at various other festivals and events. However, for this year’s Melbourne Magic Festival, Quicker Than the Eye has been updated to feature many new and creative feats of magic to wow audiences. Even if you’ve seen Josh’s show before there is enough new content here to make it well worth revisiting.

“Pick a card, any card!”. This is a very interactive show with heaps of audience participation. Staley often came into the audience to involve audiences directly in the show. A specific part involved the entire audience in fact, well those with access to a calculator. This trick left me stumped while Staley continued to impress again and again as different layers were revealed throughout the night.

Some audience members were even lucky enough to be called up to be made a star of the act itself! Staley’s friendly jovial nature and silver tongue easily able to charm even the shyest spectators into having a go. For those wanting an even more intimate show, Staley also hosts a nightly round table performance for 12 people titled, Up Late Up Close.

Even technical difficulties relating to the room’s speaker system couldn’t hold back Staley as he rolled on with the show. Mixing off the cuff comedy with his perfected illusions as a true professional. Having a look around the audience, I could tell the real magic Staley wielded was over his audience and their imaginations. Both children and adults smiling from ear to ear with shocked expressions wondering aloud, “How did he do that?”.

An incredible performance from start to finish Josh Staley: Quicker Than the Eye is everything a great magic show should be. Filled with fun, laughter, and mind-blowing illusions get in to see this show quick before it disappears.

Josh Staley: Quicker than the Eye is currently playing at Arrow on Swanston: The Cardini Cabaret as part of the Melbourne Magic Festival until the 8th of July.
For more information and ticketing, visit:

Photography supplied.

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