Maho Magic Bar at Pyrmont Bay Park

Tue 23rd April, 2024 – Sun 16th June, 2024
Pyrmont Bay Park
Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
Price: $69–$84
Get swept away in the whimsy and wonder of an immersive magic experience by the people who bought us A Midnight Visit. Expect slick cocktails, killer sake, and some of Japan’s premier illusionists.

“Magic bars exist all over Japan – in every major city. And they exist because the Japanese really adore magic,” Kirsten Siddle tells Broadsheet. “It’s one of the art forms that they’ve really taken and made their own and become the world’s best at.”

The country has been enthralled since at least the 17th century, when it began to develop a traditional magic style called tezuma. In more recent decades, Japanese magicians have assimilated sleight-of-hand and other Western techniques into their repertoires.

Siddle, through her company Broad Encounters (A Midnight Visit), has packaged the nation’s centuries-long infatuation into an immersive theatre experience named Maho Magic Bar. It’s back in town after a successful run at Sydney Festival 2023, with an all-Japanese cast of performers and bartenders.

“It’s inspired by that love of magic, but it’s also an homage, a love letter to Japan in totality, and to the juxtaposition of contemporary and traditional cultural aspects that exist in Japan,” Siddle says.

Modelled on contemporary magic bars in places like Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, it’s a riot of neon signage, shoji screens and coloured spotlights. The hour-long show brings together five magicians who perform in and around the bar’s individual tables, involving patrons with tricks. On the roster this time are Tokyo-based actress and host Spica; Wambi, a regular at Tokyo’s famed underground magic bar Osmond, who applies engineering and hardware props to his show; Shirayuri, the pin-up boy pioneer whose tricks come with a debonair storytelling twist; Sarito, a Japanese TV magician with a daredevil repertoire, using needles, gaffer tape and detergent; and Kaori Kitazawa, who grew up around magic and now brings her 10 years of experience (and kawaii charm) to the male-dominated industry.

Bartender Jun Nakamura has assembled a list of fine Japanese drinks to suit the theme, including sake from three different regions, shochu and rare spirits such as umeshu, a refreshing liqueur made from an infusion of sweet plums and green tea. Like his magical colleagues, Nakamura brings plenty of flair to his work, juggling cocktail shakers, catching liquids and setting things alight.

“It’s my idea of a perfect night out,” Siddle says. “You can enjoy some great cocktails, relax and chat to your friends, chat to your neighbours and chat to the magicians.”