Hollywood Fringe 2016
Solo magic show from Orlando Fringe Favorite.
Nick Paul does some pretty old-school magic tricks, most of them could be bought at the Magic Shop on Hollywood Boulevard not five minutes from the Ruby Theater, but he does them very well and sometimes attains the poetry and wonder he is clearly shooting for. The opening illusion with a simple red balloon sets the tone, which feels more European than American, there is no razzmatazz. We know how the balloon trick is done but that does not stop us enjoying his artistry. The title of the show advertises that he doesn’t want to deceive anybody, just demonstrate his skills. The lack of irony seems almost alternative amid the current wave of comedy-magicians. There are tricks with cards, and twenty-dollar bills, and bottles and glasses, and some good-natured audience participation that is not designed to make anyone look foolish.
The tricks are punctuated by old home-movie projections of Nick as a boy-magician, this is clearly someone who has put in his 10,000 hours.
The act is refreshingly sweet and nostalgic, there is the now-obligatory trick with a cell-phone (because who wears a wrist-watch anymore?) but it is otherwise endearingly low-tech and could have been (and probably was) performed pretty much not-for-note fifty years ago.
The limitations of the venue (projections against pleated black fabric are never going to impress) work against him but his charm and an honest desire to entertain win through.
Music underscores and keeps the international feel, some eighties electronica felt almost aggressively modern.
Mr. Paul communicates with the audience in dumb-show, and with cue-cards, reinforcing the idea that he is an exotic, or at least foreign. Near the end of the show he reveals that he’s just like us with a self-effacing speech before his last and, for me, best trick, a charming illusion with an egg and some silks. Another highlight was a routine with a perfectly manipulated hand-puppet miming to Adele, then disappearing into thin air.
The act as a whole ends up being a triumph of hard-earned skill over clever ideas; he has no angle, no deconstruction, just some inexpensive tricks that he has spent a life-time perfecting. There were some delighted children in the audience, as well as some seniors, they allowed themselves to feel the wonder, and clearly loved it.
There are no tigers or pyrotechnics, and no-one gets cut in half, but if you’re looking for some honest magic this may be exactly what you’re looking for.