City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Bullet Catch Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 13 August 2012

Bullet Catch
Show details
Traverse Theatre
The Arches
Running time: 
Rob Drummond (writer, director, producer)
Rob Drummond (William Wonder)

The notorious bullet catch trick, where a bullet fired at the mouth of the magician is caught in his teeth, has claimed at least twelve lives since its inception in 1613.  Even the Great Houdini refused to try it.

It is with some apprehension then that this reviewer entered the intimate space of Traverse Two to witness this phenomenal event. Lugubrious cello music in the background as we took our seats did little to assuage a sense of ill ease. 

The music tempo picks up but retains a sinister edge.  Then we have the first surprise of the night.  Rob Drummond appears on stage wearing a short raincoat that with his own modest demeanor gives him an air of Hulotesque shyness.

This disarmingly charming man belies his apparent shyness by removing the coat and making direct eye contact with the audience as a way to choose a volunteer, the one who will ultimately pull the trigger for this trick.  He has a particular process of elimination to make sure of complete trust between him and his victim.  Okay, he is the one being shot at but believe me the word victim is apt as it as colossal ask of anyone that they fire a gun in cold blood.  The volunteer on Sunday was calm and positive so I hope his criteria for choosing works as well on other performances.

Rob Drummond loosely takes on the character of William Wonder as he narrates the true story of William Henderson who died in 1912 during the trick, the volunteer who shot him eventually being tried for the shooting, though a verdict of death by misadventure was pronounced.

Throughout this funny and engaging show, Drummond uses his considerable skills as a magician to mesmerize and thrill with cool yet modest precision, performing tricks that require nerves of steel to watch as well as carry out, leading to the ultimate one.

What takes this show beyond being just a magic show (and there would be nothing wrong with it being just a magic show) is Drummond’s philosophical questioning about the existence of free will; whether we believe in fate or chance or in the volunteer’s case, science.

Like the stunning trick at the end that much of the audience (including this reviewer) watched through hands before their faces, this gripping,  edge-of-the-seat show was a reminder of fragility of life and the importance of engaging with our fellow beings.  The great trick of belief.

Bullet Catch is part of the Made in Scotland programme, a showcase of high quality performance from Scotland, made possible by support from the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund and a partnership between the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the Federation of Scottish Theatre (FST) and Creative Scotland.

Show times

3 – 26 Aug, times vary see Fringe Guide

Ticket prices

Sunday – Thursday £17/£12 /£6

Friday – Saturday £19/£14