Often magic tricks are gussied up to the nth degree with hazers and lasers and strobes. Here we get back to basics – up-close magic in a tiny, hot venue on the top floor of a hotel. Turn left at the top of the stairs, straight on is the dressing room. The twist here is that, in a series of vignettes, we have magic tricks (cards, bottletops magically appearing inside the bottle, mind-reading) allied to acted, tragi-comic, one-man scenarios. There’s the guy who is hearing voices (Joe Strickland) with the tale of a 19-hour operation to remove a nerve growth when he was eight. The waiter (Cam Truscott) who dreams of life as a rock star with its inevitable cycle of difficult second album to the band’s disharmonious breakup. It would be a life where ‘I wouldn’t have to care about things I don’t care about.’ Then there’s the children’s entertainer (Josh Mallalieu) who sacrifices his integrity only to meet head-on the ‘cancer bus’.
The magic tricks are great to see within spitting distance and the writing is stylish (even if the acting is a little dry-mouthed at times). The seriousness of the text may sometimes be a bit at odds with the magic and the performances need a little TLC. And yet this all works, it’s pure Fringe that offers a hugely enjoyable 50 minutes, and the guys put body and soul into it. With a little more polish this has the makings of something really interesting.