Who: Ben Hart
When: until March 18
Where: Parasol Lounge at Gluttony
Tickets: Full Price $25.00 to $34.00, Concession $27.00 to $32.00
Details available here
It was a balmy Tuesday night at the Adelaide Fringe, and I, your faithful correspondent, was ready to witness some impressive prestidigitation from the master Ben Hart. I had high expectations; Hart has an impressive resume, and had been praised for his superb performance at the Edinburgh Fringe. Charming and articulate to a fault, this young British lad wowed me, able to command the attention of his audience and have us gasping with astonishment. This was no ordinary magic show. As a performer Hart offers an energy that is rather unorthodox, reigniting your standard monotonous magic show with exceptional joie de vivre. Not only does he give you consistently baffling enchantment and wonder, but a good dose of comedy and philosophical discussion. Truly, it’s the entire entertainment package, compressed into one hour.
His tricks varied greatly, and the audience was constantly left in anticipation – He moved between performing classic card tricks with skilful legerdemain; to making objects appear and disappear with a single flourish; and to some fantastic illusionary work. I was thoroughly impressed, even astonished, with the repertoire and with his sleight-of-hand. The most remarkable trick, and I’ll resist the urge to recount every step lest I spoil it for you, was one that involved telekinetic control over an audience member’s shadow! Indeed, the suspense and mystery throughout the show were solidified through the utilisation of the audience. A magic show would simply be incomplete without an array of strangers being called upon to proclaim their innocence in their complicity of Hart’s schemes and stunts. We were left to ponder the impossibility of the collusion between Hart and the audience.
I did find certain elements of the show disjointed. A minor complaint was that some of the philosophical conversation intertwined between tricks came off as clumsy, or slightly forced. More troublesome though were the few moments where a trick either did not work initially, or did not work at all. In one instance Hart attempted to make a volunteer’s initials appear on their hand with the ash from a matchstick, and after waiting patiently they had to awkwardly return to their seat when it did not happen. Though Hart managed to recover in good form, I suspect that if Hart wasn’t half as charming as he is he wouldn’t have gotten away with it as easily.
Overall, despite these issues, it was an incredibly entertaining and fun show to attend. Special mention to the choice of sound track – I greatly appreciated Hart’s introductory scene to the sound of Thomas Newman’s Dead Already, from the 1999 film American Beauty. If you are keen for a bit of magic, and the odd dose of philosophical banter, this is the show for you.