Andrew McKinlay’s Necessary Lies has found its home in that most archetypical of free fringe venues: the back of a bar. It’s also an archetypical fringe magic show. An overarching theme is noticeable and appreciated to bring some shape to the string of tricks that McKinlay performs. There are the expected unexpected moments of a magic show, and McKinlay is a strong performer, the audience doesn’t see anything to break the illusions.
A mentalist, McKinlay uses all the classic props and doesn’t shy away from poking fun at himself for it—“It wouldn’t be a mentalist show without notecards and a sharpie”, after all. ESP shapes are used prominently as well, in a fun sequence in which McKinlay tests whether or not the audience as a collective has the mind reading abilities to tell where he has placed the shapes.
The small weekday evening audience of the reviewed show bonded over such moments. Given the size, there were several times that entire audience was involved in a single trick, and even once where the whole group was all up on stage with McKinlay, effectively performing for ourselves. This temporary sense of community, both in support of McKinlay as the magician of the evening and in response to knowing that we were collectively choosing to be manipulated by him, is the kind of magic that was most difficult to translate to the pandemic era and is a welcome sign of increasing normalcy.
Necessary Lies has all the classic mentalist ingredients, with a little bit extra structure to make the audience think without asking them to think too hard. McKinlay brings his full force of energy to even his small weekday shows, easily holding attention in an uncontrollable bar environment. The Fringe going audience could do a whole lot worse than spend an hour in his company.
More information on Andrew McKinlay and his performance dates can be found here.