Hamilton Fringe 2016
This red-nosed, wild-haired, manic-tempered Brazilian has a fair few tricks up his sleeve. He will wow you with the way his ace of diamonds keeps appearing in unexpected places, but it is the pitch and character of his performance that bowled this particular reviewer over.
Ewerton Martins is busy warming up and settling down his audience as we enter the room. He has rearranged the seating since we were in here for another show earlier in the evening – this is close-up magic, after all, and he wants us very close up. He seats us all the way round his magician’s table – even on “his” side, a signal that he has nothing to hide, and there is no trickery that we’d spot if only we had a better vantage point. (Unfortunately we still wish we did have a better vantage point – we are in row four, and many of the tricks are obscured by other audience members’ heads. Get there early, and fight for a front-row seat.)
Magic is, approximately, fifty percent about the tricks, and fifty percent about the presentation. For a magician to sustain our attention for an hour-long show, he/she needs to excel at both. And Martins is a pretty skilled practitioner of the former (although, to be honest, I’m no expert), and an absolute master at the latter (and there, if I may be so bold, I will profess some insider knowledge).
Martins chooses to perform his magic in the guise of a red-nosed clown. This is an interesting and brave choice. Most people, learning that this show consists of a clown doing magic, will probably picture a children’s party with balloon animals, bunches of flowers appearing from sleeves, and ridiculous face paint. But that is absolutely not the sort of clown we have on our hands here. Martins is a theatre clown, not a circus clown, and not, although this show is certainly suitable for children, a children’s clown. Theatre clowning is an extremely difficult skill that people go to specialist schools in Paris (such as École Philippe Gaulier, where Martins trained) to perfect. And it’s such a delicate artform: when it’s half-baked, the result can be really really bad. But when it’s done as well as it was this evening, it can be an absolute riot.
His level of energy is frenetic from beginning to end, and he does not falter for a moment. He is a master at getting his audience involved and excited. The feigned ineptitude with which he shuffles his deck between tricks is hilarious, as is his spectacular lack of mastery over the English language. He is a mischievous, bumbling fireball, and ultimately it’s the nose that sets him free.
It’s a shame there wasn’t more variety to the magic tricks he presented this evening. There is a finite number of different ways you can make a card reappear where it’s not supposed to, and arguably it was exceeded this evening. A few days earlier, I saw Martins perform an impressive bottle act as part of a Fringe showcase at another venue, so I know he has other non-card tricks in his repertoire, and I’m not quite sure why he didn’t include these in his full-length show. Yes, the title includes the words “Of The Cards”, but it doesn’t say “And Nothing But The Cards”. I greatly look forward to seeing El Diablo Of The Other Stuff.
If you like card tricks, this show is an absolute must-see. Even if you don’t, or even if you’re one of these funny people who’s scared of clowns, the sheer energy of his performance will leave you wrapped around his little finger.