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posted/updated: 15 Aug 2019 -
Ben Hart: The Nutshell
Lee Martin for Gag Reflex
society/company: Edinburgh Festival Fringe (directory)
performance date: 14 Aug 2019
venue: Venue 14. Gilded Balloon Teviot - Dining Room EH8 9AJ
reviewer/s: Chris Abbott (Sardines review)


There is plenty of magic to be seen at Edinburgh but not much that is as well-judged for the venue and event as this impressive show. In particular, the show held together very well with initial events and descriptions having later repercussions in ways which it would be unfair to mention.

Ben Hart is an engaging performer who is as adept at handling audiences as he is at dealing with technical mishaps, as at this performance when a video camera proved unresponsive. This was clearly a major problem but he dealt with it with humour and enterprise, and although the problem was quickly solved I am sure we would have been just as entertained if it had not been.

Although some effects were familiar, others were clever rethinkings and the framing story told by the performer tied everything together beautifully, with the final minutes of the show more than meeting expectations of the audience that they be astounded and left speechless.

My only slight reservation would be that it has become accepted now that most magicians will have an onstage video camera to zoom in and show what is happening. This turns a stage show into something of a television presentation at times and however impressive the trick on the screen might be, anything done without the medium of the video screen seems to connect more successfully with the audience.

An example of this is the very clever routine with the walnut and diamond as compared to the much larger reaction to the broken and restored thread which needed no video and used the full length of the stage. This is a small reservation however from someone who sees a lot of magic and will not trouble many in the audience.

Ben Hart’s show is to be recommended as an example of a young magician already at the top of his game, and I look forward to catching his full show on its forthcoming tour of the UK.

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