He's a Canadian illusionist who appeared – suddenly, right before our eyes – on the world stage. In advance of the upcoming Ontario dates of his cross-country Edge of Reality tour, we spoke to magic man Darcy Oake.
You were a finalist in the 2014 season of Britain's Got Talent. How did that come about?
They approached me to do the show. I was doing a spot in a variety show in Paris, and I was working a lot on cruise ships. Artistically, it was unsatisfying. But doing Britain's Got Talent could have been risky. I didn't want to get there and get buzzed off and ruin everything I'd built up to that point. But they assured me that my style would fit the show perfectly. I went and did it, and it turned out to be the smartest thing I ever did.
But you're from Winnipeg. Did you pull a British passport out of a hat or something?
Anyone can do any of those talent shows. It's open. Their show is the biggest one, though. I thought: if I'm going to do one, it's going to be that one.
So, you did well, but ended up losing to a theatrical boy band, Collabro. I have never heard of them. Did you make them disappear?
There you go. The thing with those shows is that it doesn't matter what place you come in. It's all about what you do with the exposure, and the momentum you get from the show. For me, where I placed was the most beneficial position. Because, if you win, you're contractually obligated for years to come. You don't just go on that show, win it and then carry on your merry way. You're a product to them.
You mentioned the term "pure illusion" on the show. Isn't that an oxymoron?
Not necessarily. To say that within the magic community it makes sense. To say illusion, you might think of a larger than life stunt that might include a big prop. But the purest form of illusion is without props. It's just a magician and whatever magic can be conjured up. There's no big box. There's no dancing girls.
Like your dove trick. But you also have the human bear-trap stunt, right?
I don't really do that any more. I love doing it. It's impressive. To do a 90-minute show and close with that is spectacular. But it's not easy, and I don't want to disregard the first 85 minutes of the show because I'm worried about what's going to happen in the last five.
A video montage of your home movies and scrapbook images plays behind you while you attempt to escape the trap, which represents your life passing before your eyes as you face possible death. Can you talk about that?
It's the part I'm most proud of. You see magicians claim that they're doing dangerous stuff, and sometimes you might feel it's fabricated danger. But in this case, to do it with actual danger and to have that extra element of storytelling, it's not just "look how great I am."
Some context to the razzle dazzle, yes?
Right. We can all relate to time, life and death. We all share that. If you can touch on that in a show, the audience can relate to that, and a connection between the performer and the audience is made.
Darcy Oake plays Belleville Nov. 12, Toronto's Sony Centre, Nov. 14, Kitchener Nov. 16, and Brampton Nov. 17.