“And for my next trick” indeed, as magician Kevin Quantum returns to the Edinburgh Fringe following his previous hit shows Quantum Magic and Illuminations with not one but two shows, the ambitious and challenging Anti-Gravity at the Gilded Balloon Teviot and this, a more traditional crowdpleasing show of manual dexterity, misdirection and downright mischief performed in the Underbelly.
Heavy on audience participation the capacity crowd of the early evening performance are enthusiastic and eager to comply if only to get onstage in the hope that proximity might unveil a few secrets, for from the opening trick this is the former physicist’s best show yet, not just the expected card tricks and sleight-of-hand but feats of mental agility involving intimidatingly large numbers, for he remains a scientist at heart.
As quick with an improvised one-liner as he is with his fingers, the show can be performed in a variety of styles according to the random selection of an audience member; this performance is Countdown, and with a ticking clock setting the pace the pressure is on and the show has to keep moving forward, unexpected hitches notwithstanding.
Unphased by the vagaries of his volunteers or occasionally hostile props, an unruly microphone flex tying him to his chair midway through a trick and a mumbled selection requiring him to produce not one but two specific cards from a shuffled deck, even with a rational consideration of the techniques deployed closely observed from the front row the hand is still astonishingly quicker than the eye of the bamboozled beholder.
A natural comedian who shifts states as per his name, sometimes Kevin Quantum baffles, sometimes he lets the audience in on the trick, at least some of them, but despite his apology that there will be no prizes – this is a Fringe show, after all – the show itself is reward enough, and booking in advance and early arrival on the night is strongly suggested to maximise the probability of the best seats.