Back in 2018, when illusionist and magician Steven Frayne was hospitalised for complications arising from Crohn’s disease and arthritis, he started writing ideas in a book. Better known by his stage name, Dynamo, he used the time thinking up over 200 tricks that he had never done before. “Doctors were telling me that I might never be able to gain back the dexterity of my hands. I needed to come up with ways in which I could keep my magic going,” says the 37-year-old, as we speak on Zoom (he is even wearing a mask for our call). After his recovery, the ideas were turned into a three-part series. When coming up with a name for the show, he remembered what was written on his notebook. “It said ‘Beyond Belief’. The fact that I was even able to be back on TV, living my dream, had seemed impossible at one point, so I felt that it summed up the experience perfectly,” he says.
Small screen comeback
Dynamo: Beyond Belief marks his return to television after a five-year hiatus. While the earlier show, Magician Impossible (between 2011 and 2014), was a four-season, fly-on-the-wall documentary series, this one chronicles his health struggles and how he worked through them. We also see him travelling across the world — Tokyo, Chiba, Dubai, Moscow, Mexico City, San Miguel, London and Los Angeles — showcasing his brand-new illusions. While he did not make it to India this time, he says he is eager to tour the country once normalcy returns. “I loved filming in Varanasi during Holi for Magician Impossible. It took me days to get the colour out of my hair,” he recalls.
There were some interesting encounters along the way, he says. “We met a geisha in one of the episodes and, as the trick progressed, we could see her composure slowly cracking as she got amazed. It takes a lot to make a geisha break character, so I was glad I could do something that had that effect on her!” In another, he makes vodka shots turn to ice — where else but in Russia. Being a car fiend and a fan of the Fast & Furious movie franchise, one of Dynamo’s favourite experiences was being part of an underground Tokyo Drift-style car meet in Japan. “I won’t spoil it for you, but it was one of the most dangerous tricks I have attempted. If it had not gone as planned, I would not be here speaking to you today,” he laughs.
Ideating for the future
Dynamo has spent the past few months in lockdown at home with his wife and two dogs, a Newfoundland and a bulldog. “I love taking long walks in the woods with them and discussing my ideas. If they could talk, my career would be over — they know all my secrets,” he quips. He is still thinking up new ideas, this time, ones that can be executed on a virtual platform. With over 900K followers on Instagram, close to 950K on TikTok and 322K on YouTube, he has a ready audience online. “I find social media a great way to interact with fans and other magicians across the world. They share their work with me and I am always amazed by what they come up with,” he concludes.
Dynamo: Beyond Belief will air on History TV18 as a three-part special every Saturday, starting July 18 at 9 pm.