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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

LEON the Magician: Table Tennis is Magic

LEON the Magician

Genre: Cabaret, Magic, Variety Show

Venue: The Space @ Venue 45


Low Down

If you want to stand out in Edinburgh at this time of year you need a unique proposition, something a little different that will cause heads to turn and get people talking. How about serving up a highly entertaining table tennis magic show? At the Fringe it makes perfect sense .


Leon is a member of the Magic Circle and a table tennis ace too. Today he is not only accompanied by his dad on electronic keyboard, who provides some funny and funky electronic background music, but also by Faye Leggett a superstar from Table Tennis Scotland. Perhaps the only disappointment was that the full-sized table tennis table placed diagonally across the stage didn’t appear magically out of the end of a wand like those pop-up flowers that were so popular back in the day.

Leon is a confident and skilled presenter, magician and table tennis player. His patter is engaging and enthusiastic with a cheeky side slice and drop shot of comedy thrown in. He tells us a little about the history of this table-top game, showing us how the all-important rubber covering revolutionised the sport. We experience a neat demonstration of a ghost serve where skill and some physics means that when the ball is served over the net it returns obediently to where it started. There is plenty of audience interaction, and opportunities for volunteers to help with card tricks, mentalism, Rubik’s cubes and a puzzle that must be solved. Magic is all about surprise, wonder, and secrets that must not be revealed. This account should not rob you of the opportunity to be amazed and to see the unexpected for yourself. But if you have ever wanted to see someone playing table tennis completely blindfolded then now could be your chance. There are some impressive tricks and the fast-paced finale brings multitasking, never mind entertainment, to a whole new level.

I can’t help thinking that the BBC were right not to commission Alan Partridge’s television show idea Monkey Tennis. The novelty would soon have worn off, never mind having to deal with complaints about animal cruelty. However, if they or any other channels have been holding out for someone with genuine talent to present a show with plenty of sport but less monkeying around, then we may have found something with the magic ingredient. This is certainly a unique hour, and the enthusiastic audience surrounding the thrust space were enthralled by what they saw. The young and young at heart all seemed to enjoy the show, with no shortage of volunteers to help where needed. Any little ones attending (recommended suitability: 8+) may be best on the front row or on the raised seating to make sure they don’t miss a trick.

Here at the Fringe we are surrounded by an amazing variety of talent and ideas, although on occasions it can feel like we have seen it all before. This show is recommended not just for its entertainment value but also because it dares to be different. Although the tricks on their own might be impressive enough, there is plenty of high-quality trickery to be seen elsewhere. A fast-paced demonstration and introduction to the Olympic sport of table tennis might be worth seeing in isolation too. The genius and unique nature of this show comes from the combination of these two ingredients, and that is definitely magic.