Edinburgh Fringe 2011
A magician and a mentalist share a show and impress us with some classic tricks and a bit of dazzling mind reading.
TJ Shoesmith, a former International Brotherhood of Magicians0„30…4 Champion 2005 and regular at The Magic Castle, Hollywood opens the show and presents the first half. He’s a bit self-deprecating, which is a shame, as he’s a fine sleight of hand magician. He works his way through a number of classic magic routines (the good old linking rings) and also a few novel ones. His card tricks were top notch and his easy patter warmed the audience and raised more than a few chuckles. There’s more than enough skill, charisma and variety for a whole show.
Dean Maudsley has performed for many TV celebrities and his offering makes up the second half of the show. It’s mind reading, laced with a lot of humour, a promise to con us completely from the start and throughout. The act is slick, often funny and occasionally gaspworthy. I sense that this highly skilled mentalist could also last a whole show and needs to step free of the now almost franchised Derren Brown-esque patter. He’s got his own fully original style in there and he needs to let it out. The routine itself is excellent and he is a terrific performer, calm and still when he wants to be, giving birth to some fine comedy moments and also moments of tension as the various mind tricks build. His trick using a safe had too much explanation at the end – he seemed too keen for us to know that it wasn’t fixed, which wasn’t needed. He didn’t pick me once, but they never do. (wink wink).
Both performers involve the audience but never in a way that threatens nor humiliates. The magic and the mind reading are mostly allowed to speak for themselves and the banter serves the tricks and not, as so often, the other way around. That shows confidence and poise that is rare. As two separate acts, I’d love to have seen them both overlap and do something together. But it’s still a very engaging and enjoyable hour or so.