I wasn’t quite expecting to spend my Friday night at my desk. Yet, there I was at 9 p.m. on a Friday, with Zoom loaded up on my laptop.
Thankfully, it wasn’t a work meeting that necessitated my presence. Rather, the Friday night event was something I looked forward to with much curiosity and intrigue rather than dread. I was supposedly about to experience a “multi-dimensional world of trick-eye, optical illusions, and magic”.
That’s right, I was about to be taken on a journey Beyond Virtual, a virtual magic show conceptualized and performed by Singapore’s youngest and only magic duo, Darren and Jerryl.
About the duo
Darren and Jerryl are best friends who bonded over their love for magic. Despite their young age, the duo is highly accomplished, with a combined performance experience of more than 15 years. They have won numerous awards and brought their show to the international stage of Hollywood and Las Vegas in the United States.
Incepted in 2018, Darren and Jerryl have come to be known for their youthful energy and tongue-in-cheek banter. Beyond just mind-blowing stage illusions, audiences can expect their shows to be heartfelt and humorous, with captivating narratives weaved in throughout.
Beyond Virtual | The Halloween Edition was four months in the making. The idea sparked when the circuit breaker was announced. As gatherings remain limited and live events restricted during the pandemic, Darren and Jerryl took it upon themselves to share the magic, fulfilling their dreams of having their own show. Thus, Beyond Virtual | The Halloween Edition was born, bringing audiences an hour-long experience of supernatural mysteries, trick-eye, magic, and wonders in the comfort of their own homes.
The Beyond Virtual experience
The Beyond Virtual experience started before 9 p.m., when a mystery package was mailed to my house. On the envelope were clear instructions to not open the package until further instructions were given.
This mystery package set the tone of mystery and intrigue for the night as I eagerly awaited the start of the show. The countdown timer on the screen languidly counted down the minutes until the show begun, as individuals and families tuned in from wherever they were, impatiently shifting in their seats for the show to begin.
Cue 9 p.m., the countdown timer ended to reveal Darren and Jerryl, situated in what appeared to be a homely set fully furnished with a couch, television, and coffee table. But your senses can’t be fully trusted in this show, and you will be well-advised to not take anything you see at face value.
The camera zooms out to reveal that the “fully-furnished set” was simply a camera trick, and what we thought were life-sized furniture was actually tiny figurines situated in a manner to make them look larger-than-life.
Thus began an hour of having your reality challenged over and over again, as Darren and Jerryl seamlessly employed optical illusions, misdirection, and sleight of hand to execute magic tricks, painting a narrative that our reality is simply what we perceive it to be, and it can change at any time as long as we are willing to see things from a different perspective.
Beyond Virtual was as interactive as it was entertaining, and the careful planning and years of experience the duo had gotten under their belt was clear from their interaction with the audience throughout the show.
With many live events and performances moving online with the COVID-19 pandemic, one aspect of such shows that has been dearly missed is the interaction between performers and audience members. Darren and Jerryl were careful to take this into account, and the hour-long show had been carefully planned to ensure that the screen was not a barrier and instead, a conduit.
Audience numbers had been capped at 25 per show to create a more intimate experience, and opportunities to interact with the two magicians were plentiful. Through the mystery package, the pair also ensured that everyone in the audience would get to have an up-close and personal experience with magic.
One of the highlights of the show was, ironically, during a segment where we were asked to switch off the lights. In true Halloween fashion, the pair delved into the ghastly story of Mona Fandey, a bomoh (a Malay shaman) who was sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of Mazlan Idris, a state assemblyman. Through riveting storytelling and illusions, Darren and Jerryl masterfully spun a haunting tale that could make anyone’s blood run cold.
To end off the chilling tale — a good old-fashioned jumpscare to break the tension and lighten the mood.
Indeed, Darren and Jerryl proved themselves adept at more than just magic during the show. Beyond Virtual went beyond the typical constraints of a magic show to create a one-of-a-kind experience. Storytelling, illusions, and augmented reality technology were skillfully employed to create a cohesive narrative, with themes of creativity and ingenuity running throughout the whole show.
By the end of the hour, I found myself both impressed and heartened by the duo’s passion for their craft. Beyond Virtual sets itself apart from other magic shows by going beyond simple entertainment. Instead, it both entertains and inspires, sharing the message that we have the power to create and control our own realities, if only we are able to look at things from a different perspective.
To catch Darren and Jerryl in action, the duo are currently performing live every Saturday (7.30 p.m – 9 p.m.) and Sunday (12.30 p.m. – 2 p.m.) at Triple Three @ Mandarin Orchard Singapore. For those who missed out on Beyond Virtual | The Halloween Edition, fret not! The duo are currently working on a Christmas edition of the show. For upcoming details, do follow them on Instagram, or check out their website here.