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.
The titular theme of Perspective is mentioned briefly in Andrew McKinlay’s show, but not really well explored. This appears to be intentional and probably for the best. At the reviewed show he certainly didn’t get much of the kind of audience who would be willing to follow along with a big theme. There are hints of a more thoughtful kind of show that McKinlay might have put together for a different time slot, that would definitely be of interest to see at a future Fringe.
There will always be increasing numbers of drunk people at Fringe shows as the night goes on. In Perspective Andrew McKinlay appears to have embraced his fate, as one of the later slots at a venue with a great drinks menu, of having to deal with high numbers of drunk people in his audience. This is what is showcased of his skill set. And the magic is nice too, it’s a solid foundation for McKinlay to use to corral the drinkers into a reluctant audience willing to cooperate with his show.
McKinlay uses a variety of sleight of hand and mentalist tricks throughout the set. These are performed well enough, certainly for the composition of the audience. The crowd was especially fond of an effect early in the show, in which McKinlay invites a range of participants on to the stage to draw a face, after which he attempts to match the drawing to the individual who drew it. It is perhaps indicative of the evening that the participants’ antics drew more of a reaction from the audience than McKinlay’s successful completion of the effect.
As will be evident from the preceding paragraphs of this review, McKinlay faced a challenging audience at the reviewed show – weirdly drunk for a Tuesday evening and entirely unafraid to heckle frequently. McKinlay handled them like the professional that he is. It was actually difficult to gauge how disruptive the audience was while sitting in the show, as McKinley was so adept at responding to them and redirecting the audience’s attention that the progress of the show flowed smoothly around the many interruptions. It is in hindsight that it is clear how hard he was working to make his show look so effortless.
Perspective may not change the audience’s perspective of much. But McKinlay knows what he’s dealing with and delivers a solid magic show, to amaze even the most drunk of Fringe-goers regardless of whether they want to be amazed or not.