The Magician was one of the first works by revered horror writer Clive Barker. First performed in Liverpool in 1978, it featured Barker himself as well as his regular collaborator and close friend, Doug Bradley, who would go on to be one of Clive Barker’s famous creations, Pinhead in the Hellraiser series. The Clive Barker Archive has now made the script available for the first time.
Told in the style of commedia dell’arte, The Magician tells the story of Pantalone, a European governor who anticipates a visit from the macabre Cagliostro, a magician who has garnered a reputation for bringing down the great and the powerful in his path, who has been invited at the request of the governor’s wife, Andrea. Upon his arrival, he hypnotises Pantalone to his whim and is prepared to conjure up a demon for the entertainment of Andrea, however, is Cagliostro all he seems to be?
Anyone looking for a prototype Pinhead or Candyman work may struggle to see it in The Magician, this was an early piece when Barker was still finding his feet as a writer; with that said, there are still some familiar themes that audiences and readers alike will recognise: the macabre nature of Cagliostro is written to be feared, even though he has ulterior motives, and Harlequin, as is the tradition with commedia dell’ arte, provides some deadpan humour which runs through some of Barker’s work. Also, farce is not a genre associated with Clive Barker but it is something he has accomplished as a playwright, the interactions between characters are quick, sharp and it doesn’t require additional direction for actors to perform.
In addition to the script itself, the essay A Fine Line between Trickery and Divinity by Phil and Sarah Stokes chronicles the life of the Dog Company, Barker’s original theatre company for his work as well as photos and posters from the original production.
Overall, The Magician is an excellent time capsule where you see the origins and developments in Clive Barker’s writing.
THE MAGICIAN / AUTHOR: CLIVE BARKER / PUBLISHER: PHIL AND SARAH STOKES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW