Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Bespoke Magic : On the Fringe of Reality
Bruce Glen – The Gentleman Magician
C aquila, Roman Eagle Lodge, Johnston Terrace
Bruce Glen, the Gentleman Magician, presents an interesting and entertaining array of illusions and stories at the Roman Eagle Lodge, one of the Fringe’s more mysterious and atmospheric venues.
Bruce Glen doesn’t so much burst onto stage as appear in our midst, as if by magic. The first challenge for this smooth talking, if a little hoarse, Australian illusionist was that perennial Fringe problem on a wet Sunday in August – a distinct absence of audience. If only Glen’s magic powers extended to the art of cloning, he would have had more than the nine brave souls (which appeared to include at least one other reviewer apart from myself) to whom to display his considerable talents.
Starting with that age old conundrum “how long is a piece of string” (or in this case three apparently different lengths of string), Glen proceeded to demonstrate that is more complicated than simply calculating the distance between the two ends. What happens, for example, if the two ends of a piece conjoin of their own accord? Does the piece become of infinite length? And what happens if all three pieces somehow join themselves, or suddenly become of equal length, only to return to their original state? Where exactly is the fringe of reality? When does illusion become reality? Old magic, but a nice new twist in delivery.
A consummate storyteller, Glen introduces us to a broad range of tricks and illusions. One used word play on ‘hole’ and ‘whole’ for an elegant routine based on cards, some whole, some with a hole. We then switched to the classic cup and ball game that has been practiced for centuries to some profit by all manner of his ilk before he used the power of suggestion to get a member of the audience to believe she was touched when in fact it was his other stooge that had been prodded.
The majority of the illusions stuck to pretty safe and simple ground and some tricks were relatively easy to deconstruct in that you could see how he was controlling the situation, loading the odds very heavily in his favour. But there were elements of cutting edge magic with his denouement routine baffling in its dexterity, sleight of hand and surprising outcome. And he has researched the fifty minute set very well, with lots of the stories and links having a strong Edinburgh or Scottish flavour.
Comfortable with his audience, with his magic and possessed of a silver tongue as a raconteur, Glen provided entertaining bright spot on a damp and miserable afternoon. Worth a visit.