Brandon Barrett is easily the youngest performer to be reviewed by this publication so far. His initiative in taking the step of putting on an hour long Fringe show at such a young age in pursuit of his goal of working as a magician is admirable. Brain Access certainly has its high points. It is clear that Barrett has done his research by attending more established magicians’ shows—perhaps at times too clear, as some aspects of his performance feel a little bit too much like an imitation of other performers. Nevertheless Barrett shows promise as a budding comedy magician.
The playful first trick sets the tone for Barrett’s show. He simultaneously impresses the audience with his trick while joking about their expectations. Barrett performs other tricks with character as well, including a mind reading trick that integrates his set design. His finale is non-magical but dramatic, and features an interesting degree of audience participation, as Barrett allows an audience member to choose the soundtrack for his last effect.
Barrett describes himself as a comic magician, and he endeavors to give near equal stage time to his comedy performance as his magic tricks. This often works to his advantage, as he has a lot of great comedy material, but he does joke an awful lot about his young age. His emphasis on his age does have the perhaps desired effect of impressing the audience with his accomplishments relative to his youth, but as he belabors the point so frequently it becomes unwelcome.
In terms of magic, Barrett unfortunately has enough issues with his sleight of hand that the frequency of the props peeking out at the wrong moments is distracting. Additionally, some of his mannerisms come across as forced. It is clear that he is still working on his style. However, these flaws are completely understandable given his age and level of experience.
While Barrett’s Brain Access has its flaws, these all come across as experience-based issues that a young magician like Barrett should have plenty of time to remedy. Both his magical skills and performance persona would benefit from additional work. But Barrett is on the right track, as getting out in front of a crowd is the best way to get this practice.