Magic at the Edinburgh Fringe 2000
by Mandy Davis

Just back from the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh and it was brilliant! I am totally exhausted - we arrived at 4.30 on Sunday afternoon and left at 6 pm on Wednesday; in three days, we saw twenty productions!

Magically, we couldn't find a lot happening this year. Being the first week of the festival, not all the shows were up and running so if we have missed you out, please accept my apologies and write in to MagicWeek immediately! However, the magic that was there was very good indeed. The one person we knew we had to see was Jerry Sadowitz! He was amazing! He actually came across as a warm personality but one who doesn't suffer fools gladly and he could be extremely cutting as and when he wished. The show was definitely an adults only ticket but the magic left the audience stunned and amazed. The trick that seemed to get the biggest gasps of amazement at this sell-out performance was Chink a Chink which Jerry was at great pains to credit properly. He even sought the opinion of another magician in the house (Rob Cox) to ask what he thought and also to confirm that this rather racist name for the trick was, in fact, real. Jerry was very funny, very accomplished and very professional. His opening, with a Bill Switch, had the most logical ending I have ever seen. He performed twenty-two tricks altogether, working across the board from Coins Across and a Diary trick through Ambitious Card to some excellent gambling routines and card transpositions. This show is definitely a must for magicians and lay people alike.

Then, on to another venue for the Wee Magic Show, another one man event featuring Scots magician Ian Kendall. His show was an hour of close up with a capacity audience of just twenty people. His magic was not aimed at magicians but I enjoyed it anyway and the lay audience loved it; you could hear the intakes of breath at various times. There were some very responsive American lads in the front row and some totally amazed Austrians behind them. The repertoire started with some rubber band routines and continued with a short Chop Cup sequence, cards across, a Max Maven ESP prediction and a book test to name a few - but his party trick was a muscle pass which he threw in at odd intervals and is obviously his pride and joy (and rightly so). This was a show with a pleasing personality and some strong magic.

Last year we had managed to catch Magic Bob's children's show but we ran out of time this week. Suffice it to say that I am certain that he will be providing a very slick and professional performance as he certainly had done so previously.

I couldn't finish this article without mentioning the talented ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, with Mandy Muden who was not performing the night we went. She was listed as Paul's special guest but wasn't going to appear as she had only just arrived hotfoot from Beirut where she had been working with Fay Presto; we had a good natter with her and Paul before going on to enjoy his performance. He had told us that his animatronic, which usually closed the show, had fallen off the table during the act the night before and had broken. So we only got 50 minutes but they were of the highest quality as always. Baby, Sam and Grandpa all made an appearance and we were also treated to a human vent doll sequence which was innovative and funny. Paul's party pieces included a rhythm session where he and Sam speak simultaneously and some wonderful byplay when he and the dummy swap voices!

I can honestly say that these three shows were of the highest standard and absolute 'must-sees' for anyone visiting Edinburgh this month. And my recommendations for non-magic performance? Go see Stephen Berkoff's "The Messiah" which premiered this week and is to be seen at the Assembly Rooms in the mornings. Spend an afternoon with the Weird Sisters in Loveplay - a story of ten characters, both males and females of all ages, played by two women with no props or costumes and don't miss Rich Hall as Otis Lee Cranshaw, an ex-con from Tennessee with his own brand of late night humour in the form of re-written Country and Western songs. (Both these acts are at the Pleasance).

I can't wait for next year!

Mandy Davis, August 2000