Edinburgh Fringe 2021
Magic Gareth wants to celebrate a birthday – everybody’s birthday! And everyone in the room is invited. From his introductory trick with a red ball, the food, the drink, the party games, presents and the final pay off with the largest balloon in the world we have 40 minutes of undisguised joy.
If you expect a Blaine or a Copperfield, then you would not book a children’s magician. And so, the standard tricks are on display – the ball in the hand, the rope and the mind tricks. What raises this beyond the mundane is the man belonging to those hands and who went in search of the biggest balloon in the world.
There is quite simply experience on that stage. I am unsure of how many birthday parties are standing in front of me as Magic Gareth draws us all in and takes us off on this voyage, but it must be considerable. The concept he has drawn together – of the birthday party – is a fantastically simple and celebratory structure. Bringing the COVID pandemic into play might not be original but the enthusiasm with which we readily engage with the concept is down to someone who can drive the whole thing with gusto.
Children are unforgiving crowds. They can smell the lack of authentic, rebel at the lack of fun and wiggle on their seats if they don’t feel a part of it all. At times this was filled with chaotic voices, but it was never uncontrolled. Magic Gareth knows just when to let things go and when to bring them back; it’s a treat to watch that work.
If you have the standard tricks which amaze and tantalize, it is the finale, the pay off that needs to be pretty special. He managed that. Once again it was not so much the effects or the props but the story. The way in which he built up to it whilst making sure we trusted him despite him constantly pretending we shouldn’t but never taking it too far made the whole performance one that sat just at the right side of a very fine needle point.
Props and effects were spot on, the script was fluid and allowed for improvisation, the interaction with the kids was brilliant and fun was had by everyone.
I have to say that my admiration for all children’s entertainers after the pandemic is massive. They must have struggled. Even in normal times the need to be gigged beyond belief, to be promoting and working at that promotion must be exhausting and the need to be over the top happy when there must be life in the background simply going on and bringing its rich challenges, must be difficult. But when it all comes together and you have somebody at the peak of their craft, delivering exactly what the kids want to see, it’s beyond a joy. There might be better children’s magicians out there, but I am yet to find one. I shall keep looking and keep you posted but, in the meantime …