Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

Being led down underneath the Freemason’s hall, the cream-coloured tile walls would make you think this is an old underground station or, worse, an old sewer. Ada Campe however does anything but drag you through the gutter. An icon of her own design, Campe delivers her own style of bonkers brilliance with this simple but incredible story of magic.

Campe has been working in variety entertainment for years, as she illustrates with a story of her past told with evocation, wonder and a magnetic voice. Her words of incantation conjure up the funfairs of old; halls of magic mirrors, ghost trains and sweet treats. Spurred on by her own mortality, this is a meaningful delve into the past and is complete with wicked humour. By the end of the show you just want her to be your granny – even if she would find great delight in embarrassing you.

She certainly finds great delight involving bashful audience members in her show. If Campe singles you out, be prepared to participate in strange magic tricks and circus acts, or rituals involving “sacred” books. Said book ritual is the best moment of the show – a reveal that catches out the audience perfectly, and immediately has them sniggering away at the loopiness of the whole situation. By the breathlessly funny dance finale, you will want more Ada Campe in your life.

Campe balances moments where weighted words sink in and make time itself tick slower with displays of sensational humour and stagecraft. Her delivery is infectious, weird and for a change the puns actually feel new. Amazing also is Campe’s quick wit when interacting with her crowd. Faces fall into hands in self-effacing dismay when she picks out her latest assistant. Such humility however always bursts into fun as you give in to the wonder of it all.

Technically simple but impressive, the timings of lights and sounds are spot on. This is surprisingly rare even for productions bigger than this. Then again, Ada Campe and the Psychic Duck proves that size doesn’t matter. The show is a loving ride through the wonders of circus, cabaret and variety and Campe never wipes that mischievous grin from her face as she unveils her latest wonderful display of outstanding nonsense. The hour goes slowly by as you escape into this rousing realm of storytelling, marvelling at the stature and enchantment of its awe-inspiring star.