© James Hyland 1998-2019
"James Hyland gives an extraordinary performance as Inspector Gammell, layered with confidence, intelligence, cynicism and intensity. Michael Shon matches him as the smug and craftily clever Cutley. They bounce off each other perfectly in this enthralling two-hander. ‘Magic Circle’, the first full-length play by novelist and journalist Kim Newman, pulses with tension. This is a tightly written, expertly performed mystery with a supernatural element that jars and unsettles as it hurtles towards its sinister finale. Storytelling at its best with remarkable performances from its cast."
~Annie Power, London Pub Theatres Magazine
"Magic Circle is a fabulously entertaining two-handed piece of theatre, which benefits from having two extremely well-balanced and capable cast members... Magic Circle while often being very funny proves to be anything but a comedy as the dramatic turn of events unfold towards the startling conclusion. This double-headed approach reminded me in some degree of Sidney Lumet’s The Offence (1973), only it's The Offence as written by Dennis Wheatley. We give Magic Circle a big 666/666."
"DESERVES MUCH PRAISE. When a play is a two hander, the ability to keep the audience gripped is in their hands. With some of the best acting I’ve seen on stage since I saw James McAvoy in the West End, this performance takes on another dimension. The tight intelligent dialogue between these two characters is rattled off to perfection. They moved beyond just delivering lines, to having a conversation, one without hesitation, with clear conviction and tonal range that fits the emotions and frustrations that are building up. Actor James Hyland also produced the play and it feels like a showcase for him, one that highlights his talents. That’s not to say that Michael Shon in the role of the Professor is any less talented, but Hyland has most of the dialogue and is able to take a journey through a variety of different states seamlessly and effortlessly. A truly epic performance and one that I was delighted to have seen."
~Douglas McFarlane, UK Theatre Network
"In what must be a first for the British stage, the Brother Wolf theatre company is conducting an arcane magic ritual for their latest production, 'Magic Circle', a two-handed mystery written by novelist Kim Newman, whose inspirations include real-life magician Aleister Crowley, the weird fiction of HP Lovecraft and Dennis Wheatley's occult masterpiece 'The Devil Rides Out'. And if you are a fan, then you are in for a treat... Both actors excel in their respective parts, with Hyland's surly copper coming off like a cross between Alfred Marks’ DS Bellaver in 'Scream and Scream Again' (1970) and Laurence Olivier’s down-at-heel Archie in 'The Entertainer' (1960), while Shon's hippy occultist possesses the same arrogance as Dean Stockwell's Wilbur Whateley in 'The Dunwich Horror' (1970). And thanks to Newman's trickster narrative, the duo get to showcase their vast range as they lure audiences into the author’s eerie mystery – one that’s guaranteed to leave you breathless by the end."
~Peter Fuller, KultGuy's Keep
"Horror works very well with suspense and Newman has done that just right, as well as the fine direction by Phil Lowe. For eighty minutes, I was on the edge of my seat, guessing and expecting dread, with the performances by Hyland and Shon. But what I did get for this resolution was shock horror! Watching the West End premiere, I got an 'I-didn’t-expect-to-see-it' ending, which left the audience silent... This play is one of his finest works, and this scintillating piece of fiction should be a chief rival to the ongoing stage adaptation of Susan Hill's 'The Woman in Black'... I also felt that the detective looked a lot like Sean Connery’s character in 'The Offence', acting as a Gene Hunt throwback. A treat for fans of nostalgia, especially the seventies... this play will thrill and scare theatregoers... A MUST-SEE HORROR PLAY!"
Rating: FIVE STARS
~Jason D. Brawn, British Theatre Journal
"The plot thickens and turns when least expected... This is portrayed very well by both actors who showed their tremendous skills in this battle of wits... the climatic final scene had me on the edge of my seat... Loved it loads."
"we will hear much more of this very entertaining show in wider circulation soon... the performance is both an entertaining and clever dialogue... Hyland (the Inspector) and Shon (the Professor) bounced off each other perfectly... Both were terrific performers... 'Magic Circle' will make you appreciate different aspects from the cinema or television, including excellent acting, atmosphere and how a clever production can be built out of virtually no props... this heathen enjoyed this play tremendously. 'Magic Circle' was an enjoyable way of broadening my horror horizons beyond the usual staples of cinema, TV and books and I would highly recommend giving it a go."
~Tony Jones, Ginger Nuts of Horror
"The duo of James Hyland and Michael Shon really make the dense black box of the Old Red Lion’s stripped-back space work for them. They work with the gloom to present an effective, enjoyable and unnerving two-hander... the piece is a good illustration of how cerebral a thrilling moment can be. Magic Circle does not rely on jumps and cheap shocks, but a fast-paced conversation and coherent set of arguments... It’s good – delivered with complete charisma from both actors and engaging for the audience. There’s comedy, as all good horror should have – which acts as a useful foil to the steadily rising sense of dread they engineer... Superb acting is the order of the day, with both men getting properly absorbed in their characters. They’re able to attract and retain attention for the duration"
~Karl O’Doherty, The Reviews Hub
Presented in collaboration with Harrogate Theatre
Produced by James Hyland
Written by Kim Newman
Directed by Phil Lowe
Music by Chris Warner
Costume Design by Charlene Braniff
Performed by Michael Shon and James Hyland