Note: This review is from the 2021 Fringe

Edinburgh’s Banshee Labyrinth is the perfect venue for Nightmare Magic, lending itself to the gothic horror theme of the show. David Alnwick interweaves magic tricks with narrative telling a story that revolves around a mysterious box inherited from an uncle. He works his way through items and a journal inside the box, and each birth’s a new illusion, usually aided by some audience participation.

The storytelling is carefully crafted with haunting scene-setting and eerie events unfolding. Alnwick is a talented narrator and speaks confidently to the audience, always in control of proceedings. The magic is effective to varying degrees. Some of the tricks have exciting payoffs – particularly the baffling finale which is an absolute standout. Others are more subtle and have a fair bit of preamble before the reveals appear. On this occasion, a couple of tricks don’t quite have the desired outcome. Alnwick is experienced enough to work around them and move swiftly on, but there is a sense of disappointment in these moments.

The strengths are more than enough to engage us, though: atmospheric storytelling and exciting magic techniques. However, some sections of narration feel just a little too long, and one or two tricks don’t quite punch with enough impact. However, it’s a packed house at the Banshee Labyrinth on a Monday night and the audience seem entertained at the show’s close, still puzzling over that final set piece.