Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Uncle Paul is in the house and he hates the kids. Fact is that through magic and sleight of hand, we go unplugged for the afternoon, and get a rope trick, the guillotine trick, a memory trick, turning a kid into a bunny and the bag of disappointment, it is an hour in the company of a master of children’s theatre.
If you are looking for some form of radical new enterprise to keep the kids out the rain and amused, this aint it. This is the type of universally magic, magic show that keeps the kids laughing, the parents amused and manages a thin line between getting the adults to relax and the kids onside. Paul Nathan is just the master of making an audience go with him; to wherever he wants to take you. He has the right chutzpah and patter that keeps the kids desperate to be onstage with him and the adults smiling whilst they do. All the tricks of the fayre are in attendance.
Bribing the adults with fizzy wine and the possibility of knocking your child out with the cork is one thing, finding a reviewer in the audience (that’ll be me!) and giving him the bottle shows he can improvise. Mind you, the length of time this has been on the road I hardly think there is a scenario he has not come across – perhaps not serious injury to a child, unless he has already tried that…
That’s the mixture of the fun and being funny along with the conceit that he hates kids, when in actual fact, this is a testimony, a hymn perhaps to the joy of childhood. Even the grumpy teenagers are brought up, given a hard time and they struggle not to smile as that inner kid shines through their eyes as they seem to say – go, go on, I dare you… Aw no, you are!!!!
The tricks may not be overly complex, but it is their simplicity that works so well. They are sold with conviction. There is nothing new about the memory work, the card trick or the rope being cut in half but the eyes of the children who see it and the gasps of the adults who are by now engaged in selling everything with Paul are enough to allow him to slag off your kids and be forgivably nasty to them. He pulls their t shirts to move them and nobody calls ChildLine – such is his ability to perform to a very high standard.
Production values are kept at the simple. We get the bare stage, the magical props and the musician who will be part of the act playing along tunes the older ones can recognise as standards. The photography of each person onstage that is then on the Facebook page is a neat nod to 2019. It brings you back time and again… It did to me…
I saw this with my 4 year old daughter and her sister for Fringe Review 7 years ago at the Pleasance. She loved it then and despite the tag of it being all new and improved, she loved it now – even at 11 years of age now. She was the one whose name Paul struggled with – Cerys – but she was also the one who wanted the merch afterwards. In the rain, waiting for our next show, she practised harder and harder to get the two card monty trick right. As a legacy, not a bad review from her at all… Her 25 year old big brother has asked if he can be taken next time but that might be to collect the bottle of wine I left behind…