Like magic, crowds of people are back at the Sydney Opera House. But there’s no spell against the global disease pandemic.

We’re all masked, of course, and separated somewhat in the cosy confines of the Studio. But what’s a magic show without audience interaction? The pulse quickens just a little as the magician steps down into the audience…

James Galea's Best Trick Ever James Galea’s BEST TRICK EVER. Photo © Prudence Upton

But fear not. James Galea, accomplished card shark and leader of this “magic jam”, is too genial a host to contaminate any of his guests (we hope). The plastic gloves go on. A reasonably safe distance is maintained. And those lucky/unlucky enough to be called up are asked to sanitise via handy stage-side dispensers. One man who offers up his jacket for an impressive piece of illusion has it thoroughly sprayed with disinfectant before its return.

We’re in James’ house, or at least a clubhouse-like set where some of the country’s best magicians are lounging each night, like the Avengers of wizardry. Joining him, “unusualist” Raymond Crowe, “escapologist” Helen...

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