The first nightmare of David Alnwick’s Nightmare Magic is trying to get a ticket – he is still part of the PBH Free Fringe, but is so popular that placeholder tickets are given out an hour before the start time in an attempt to reduce his usual hours-long queues. This has effectively shifted the massive queuing to an hour earlier, and turned it in to more of a scrum in the bar area of his venue. This publication has said it before and it bears repeating, Alnwick is wildly, ridiculously popular. Nightmare Magic is framed as a demonstration of his mysterious objects’ powers, but what it really demonstrates beyond doubt is that Alnwick more than earns his reputation with every show that he performs at the Fringe.
Alnwick goes light on the actual magic here. Nightmare Magic is as much a one man play as it is a magic show, and he easily holds his audience’s attention without it. As much as Alnwick establishes that he doesn’t need magic to be an effective performer, being a magician he did of course create a show that uses magic to bring his stories to life. His variety of mentalist and sleight of hand tricks are performed perfectly. Between the perfection of his execution and the well thought out props, the magic blends seamlessly into the plot of the show.
The show is scary, especially for the easily frightened like this reviewer. Alnwick’s participants are not spared from the frights, but it is nothing out of the ordinary for show billed as a horror story. For those who might be worried, it’s more of a creeping sensation of impending doom than anything like jump scares. You might want a comforting cup of tea and an episode of your favorite sitcom before bed.
Alnwick has reached a point in his career where he could coast on the formidable skill set that earned him his reputation and probably still cause daily stampedes for a spot in his shows. But Nightmare Magic shows that he has instead chosen to innovate, pushing his own boundaries and the boundaries of magic as a genre. In watching a range of magic shows it is often evident that Alnwick in particular is a source of inspiration for many young Fringe magicians, so it’s especially nice to see him modeling a wide range of approaches to magic across his portfolio of shows. This year the cult leader has gone a little bit mad, and is more interested in discovering his audience member’s names than hearing them chant his own. Next year could be anything, but knowing Alnwick it will at the very least be well worth a watch.
More information on Alnwick and his performance dates can be found here.