REVIEW: Bullet Catch

Rob Drummond’s show turned out to be less of a straightforward magic show, and more of a synthesis of magic show, deadpan comedy routine, and one-man stage play. The performance contained a nice mix of stunts that were outright theatrical, and stunts that played with the mind. All the while, listening to Drummond’s Scottish accent was much more soothing to the ears compared to a previous week of listening to various professors lecture.

Right at the beginning, Drummond picks a volunteer from the audience, and so for the next hour and fifteen minutes, the stage is shared by two people. As he explains, his volunteers are never picked on and paraded in front of the audience to be laughed at—these volunteers are there to build a relationship. Our volunteer, Alexis, aided Drummond with each of his tricks, read snippets of writing, and warmed the room with her laughter. Each trick told us new information about her, so that by the time she had to shoot at Drummond, we had a relationship with her that was almost as close as our relationship with Drummond.

Seeing the tricks themselves was like being a child again. Drummond took a hammer to a beer bottle and smashed it in half; then he took the top half and made it disappear inside one of four paper bags. After moving them to his chest of tricks and mixing them up, he smashed them, one by one, with his hand at Alexis’ (the volunteer) request. Somehow she narrowed it down so that the final bag was the one with the bottle. Mind blown.

In another trick, Drummond gave Alexis a choice of seven cards: each with a different desire such as travel, career, money, or sex. Through a series of questions and answers, he asked her to think of a memory and a person involved, and made his guesses by writing on sheets of paper. Drummond guessed the day she was thinking of (almost exactly), the name of the boy she danced with, and the card she picked (sex). Again, mind blown.

At one point during the show, Drummond performed a trick with his assistant, and at its conclusion he asked the audience if we wanted to see how it was performed. Those that wanted it to remain a mystery were asked to close their eyes, while the curious ones kept their eyes open. I won’t spoil anything, but I do wish I had kept my eyes shut to preserve the magic. Unfortunately (or not), Drummond never reveals how he does the bullet catch, and that alone preserves the magical aura of the performance.

Throughout the performance, Drummond presented a story of another magician who was shot and killed accidentally by a performer. I checked online and I don’t believe the magician actually existed, so as far as I can tell the entire thing is Drummond’s (inspired) work. The shocked volunteer questions himself and what could have gone wrong, and only at the end does he realize that the magician WANTED to die. Before the finale, Drummond ties this all together by stating that in a world of nihilism and existential questioning, we have to have something in our lives to make it all worth it. He answers this question by asserting that the answer is the people around us.

Not necessarily a magic show, Rob Drummond’s Bullet Catch was a fantastic show and one of the best I have attended in and around Ann Arbor. Few people have the opportunity to see a bullet shatter a plate, and then watch as the same bullet is caught by a human being.

Rob Drummond's Bullet Catch
Rob Drummond’s Bullet Catch

Phillip Wachowiak

I am a graduate student studying physiology. In addition to science, I love to do things with cameras