A Couple of Tricks

French couple Francoise and Renaud de Swetschin brought a comic twist and added a plot to their magic act.

Written by Anjali Jhangiani KP | Published:October 5, 2013 4:53 am

The audience scurried to get the best seats at Kala Chhaya,Alliance Francaise — their eyes fixed on the stage,which had a cheery yellow tent,a chair,table and clothes line. As they settled in,a magician clad in a black suit walked out of the tent. He introduced it as his home and called upon his beautiful wife,who was also his assistant. Together,they sprinkled magic in the air on Thursday evening as the audience gaped at logic-defying acts and guffawed at the couple’s antics.

Going by the name of Aristobulle,French magic artistes Francoise and Renaud de Swetschin brought to Pune their act titled Illusion on Black Top,as part of a nine-city tour in association with Alliance Francaise. Before coming to the city,the husband-wife duo performed in Delhi and Indore and are now headed to Allahabad,Kolkata,Bangalore,Pondicherry and Chennai.

“All our acts are like theatrical performances. We have characters who follow a plot and incorporate magic tricks along the way. Doing only a magic show is a thing of the past. We think it is more interesting to put a story to it,” says Francoise,the magician’s wife.

She adds that she met Renaud more than 28 years ago and fell in love when they were young adults still trying to figure out their careers. While she was interested in theatre,Renaud wanted to become a magician. So they decided to combine the two interests and create a show. They started off with street performances in France,which became a hit,and they were encouraged to do shows in other parts of Europe. Gradually,they started performing in other parts of the world — Singapore,the US and Australia.

“We have a range of different acts,some of which are meant for children,while some others are meant for all age-groups,like the one we performed here. We have tried to showcase the bitter-sweet tussle of any married couple,which is the same in every part of the world,” says Francoise,adding that they do not tweak their acts according to the place they perform at,since they present a universal subject — magic — coupled with fun.

Among the tricks Renaud performed on Thursday,one entailed his wife floating mid-air,supported only by the tip of a stick. He then pretended to accidentally drop her down a few inches,which resulted in the stick going through her stomach. He also performed the famous elevation trick and the bangle-in-the-rope trick,which involved audience interaction.

For the rope trick,he borrowed a bangle from an audience member,and for a card trick,he asked a little boy to pick a card and put it in a pot. He also called an elderly person on stage to help him with the handkerchief trick. While his assistant held the cloth tightly,Renaud uttered a few magic spells and made signature hand movements. Lo and behold,the handkerchief turned into an underwear and the audience was in splits.

“I was surprised to see women walking in with children even after the show had begun. They must have heard the music,walked in and stayed because the show caught their interest. It is our purpose in life to spread smiles,and of course,a little bit of magic along the way,” says Francoise.

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