Saturday 7 May 2011

Simon Drake's House of Magic

Do you believe in magic?  I do. In fact, I recently saw some pretty excellent magic at Simon Drake's House of Magic. Some of you may remember Simon Drake from his Channel 4 programme 'The Secret Cabaret', during the early 1990's. Simon Drake performs dark, mysterious, innovative magic and shocking illusions. He became a legend amongst Magicians, and even worked with Kate Bush, devising visuals and characters for her 1979 UK tour.

Simon Drake has been performing monthly public shows at his home since 1996. The House of Magic is a converted Victorian building situated in a secret location in South London.  So a friend and I went along to check it out and we weren't disappointed. I won't divulge the address as that's part of the mystery. In fact, there is a vintage car service who can arrange for you to be blindfolded for your journey, so you have no idea of your destination!

We arrived through the gate, straight into The Enchanted Garden, a pretty courtyard garden lit by fairylights and bathed in fog.  On closer inspection, I spotted several peculiar things including miniature stuffed birds in the trees, and a small graveyard.  An eerie seven foot tall butler greeted us, revealing the live head of a man on a silver dish.  

We hastily made our way inside and straight into the gothic interior of The Red Room and its welcoming candlelit bar where we got ourselves some wine and began to explore. There was so much to see and take in, including strange paintings, spooky paraphenalia, magical penny-slot games and the special Whispering Chair which you sit in, pop on some headphones and listen to your destiny unfold.

We then made our way upstairs to the Drawing Room. A wonderful room of faded glamour and chock-a-block with books, antiques and endless magical artefacts.  Elvis and Frank Sinatra blasted from the speakers whilst we sat in leather armchairs, enjoying our wine and taking in the curiousities. I particularly liked the framed photographs in the hallway of people from days gone by, which had a subtle hologram effect causing the images to change into something quite unexpected as you walked past.

Next stop was the Haunted Cellar with the wigged-butler and his lovely vampire assistant, Betty. Groups of 10 go down into the depths of the basement for a slightly tongue in cheek, amusingly scary tour of ghosts, cobwebs, coffins and things that go bump in the night.  Suitably frightened, we returned upstairs to take our seats for dinner.

Although you can buy show-only tickets, it's worth paying the extra to be seated at a prime table in front of the stage and enjoy the buffet dinner.  The food, although not exceptional, was tasty enough with lots of salads, quiches and Blackforest Gateau. We had an excellent table right at the front which we shared with a friendly bunch. It felt a bit like being at a Goth's wedding! During dinner, a couple of close-up magicians performed some amazing card tricks right under our nose. One of them asked me to write my name on a fiver, made it disappear and miraculously retrieved it from inside a fresh kiwi fruit. That's magic!

After dinner, it was finally time to see the man himself.  Simon Drake appeared on stage with his various sexy Morticia-esque assistants and did some truly mind-blowing acts, including decapitating a member of the audience's head; elevating himself a foot off the ground; producing hundreds of colourful flowers from a rolled piece of card, and suspending a lit candle in the air with no strings attached (which he proved by putting a metal ring all around it). Photography is not allowed when it comes to the show, hence no pictures here of Mr Drake in action. But believe me, it really was thrilling and mesmerising and confirms my belief that magic does exist.  True magic, haunting magic, sexy magic and retro magic - Simon Drake does it all. He is a brilliant illusionist with a terrific stage presence and a cheeky twinkle in his eye. I would love to meet him off stage and see what he's like in 'real life'.

I thoroughly enjoyed my night of magic and felt completely transported, only waking from the sense of hypnosis and back in reality once we found ourselves at the nearby tube station.  I would definitely return to the House of Magic and think a dark winter's evening would add to the magic even more.  Abracadabra!

House of Magic
Monthly dinner/show nights (tickets £45 - £85)
Available for exclusive hire
020 7735 4777


David J Constable said...

This is excellent! Would love to attend the next event.

Fernandez & Leluu said...

you are brilliant for finding out about all these places - I am so lucky you took me - I loved it! x

Mo said...

What a cool place

Irene said...

We were there too it was a good night. Highly recommend it to everyone.

Anonymous said...

A group of us went there last night. It was a fun night, but we all regretted going for the stools tickets. These were only £10 less than the tickets for a seat at a table, but we were treated like second class citizens. There was no magic in the drawing room where we were allowed to eat, plus they tried to cram people in front us during the show. When we complained about it they offered us drinks on the house, which were very watered down, if they included any alcohol at all. Our friends didn't even get that. The official photographer also pushed in front us while we were taking pictures of our own group. £30 extra for a hard stool during a one-hour show is definitely not worth it considering what we got. We all wished we'd gone for the standing tickets. Shame, as it spoiled what could otherwise have been an excellent Halloween party.

Missimmy said...

Hmm, that doesn't sound much fun at all, sorry to hear you had a bad time. I agree, it's quite expensive and the contrast in what you get for a table seat and a stool for the sake of a tenner, is vast. And I expect being Halloween, they were busier than usual, which is no excuse to cram it so full that it affects people's enjoyment. I hope Simon Drake's magic house take a note of your comment. Thanks for posting. And Happy Halloween!

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