Lewis Barlow chose a very straightforward name for his show—Cards, Coins, and Minds—and he does exactly what it says on the tin, performing a series of coin and card tricks and reading a few audience members’ minds. The premise is simple, but the magic is enthralling. Barlow performs to an audience comprised largely of adults accompanied by young children, and he easily holds the attention of all ages.
Barlow begins with a quick few coin tricks. While these are entertaining enough, a few of the younger children were still a bit fidgety until he brought out the cards. Using a younger audience member as one of his first participants was both a nice way to include that segment of the audience and perhaps helpful in getting them on board with sitting still for the rest of the show.
Following this is his mind reading, where Barlow continues to excel. He has mastered the art of timing his preparatory work just long enough to build anticipation while not continuing so long that he loses the attention of the children. He uses both cards and less traditional magic props to maximize effect, and finishes up with a wonderfully performed déjà vu themed card trick that leaves the audience amazed as we exit the theatre.
If there is one critique to be raised of Barlow’s performance, it is in his poor handling of young child shouting out that she wanted to have a go at volunteering in his show. Considering his experience (Barlow has been a magician for twenty years, he tells the audience in this show) one might have expected him to have contingency plans prepared for audience interference. Seeing this instance apparently catch him unawares was especially surprising considering how well he otherwise dealt with his younger audience members.
In Cards, Coins, and Minds, Barlow’s performance is both pleasantly straightforward and captivatingly complex. Barlow’s gentle stage presence inspires audience trust, and his evident magical skill enchants the audience. Cards, Coins, and Minds is an excellent piece of family magic to entertain guardian and child alike.