Edinburghers fear not: an obligatory goth magician remains stationed at the Pleasance Grand to guard the night. Ben Hart’s Fringe show Wonder was all but sold out on a rainy Monday evening, a testament to the work he has been putting in to building his local fanbase over the past few Fringes. And as always, Hart does not disappoint. With his warehouse-chic costuming and staging, Hart is in turn funny, unnerving, and magical, but never dull to watch—the whole hour is entirely captivating.
To quote an insightful fellow reviewer, Hannah Risser, “magicians fucking love putting money in oranges”. It’s about as cliché as finding a card from a shuffled deck. This Fringe is lucky enough to see two re-imaginings of this classic effect that genuinely make it feel fresh, and one of them is here in Hart’s show. Similarly, a classic restorative effect is here woven in to a story with a fantastic fully immersive conclusion. This creativity keeps even those who go to multiple magic shows excited to see more.
Some of Hart’s magic happens on a smaller scale, and Hart has employed a live stream camera to beam his hands up to two large screens above his stage. He makes great use of this, he is excellent at playing to both the audience and the camera, and for bigger effects he uses the live stream to give the audience new perspectives from which to appreciate his magic. While his participants get the super close view—and despite Hart’s well constructed eerie, disconcerting air no one is harmed—this ensures that the full audience feels included. When the camera is not in use he’ll casually flick the buttons and lean on it, making it feel like a natural part of the show.
Hart manages to end Wonder on a note that is both uplifting and darkly comic, the perfect combination for his show. He warns the audience early on that he loves a plot twist, and the semi-meta nature of the one employed is wonderfully creative. The incredible Hart is well worth a ticket, and a return visit next Fringe as everyone who sees him will definitely want to see him again.
More information on Hart and his performance dates can be found here.