Cabaret review: Ben Hart – The Outsider

Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Ben Hart – The Outsider at Underbelly (venue 61), reviewed by Kate Copstick

This is a beautiful show, the magic of which is as much about the staging and direction by Anthony Owen as it is about the tricks.

Ben Hart is a strangely compelling young man. He rolls imaginary cigarettes and then lights them, paints real thimbles onto his fingers, turns spoons into forks with his tongue and creates flies with a kazoo only to kill them and turn them into silver coins.

There are interstitial film clips taken, we learn, from a consultation with a psychologist. It seems Ben’s practised skill 
as a magician could be in response to a sad childhood.

There are stunning moments with just one hand and five white balls making a sort of manual ballet and a shrinking card pack to the soundtrack of monsoon rain.

Most of the classic tricks (cut and restore, cards that are chosen, put in the pack and then appear in unfeasible places, paper tearing and levitation) are there but beautifully set into introspective anecdotes and music. The tricks are not flawless, but this has “made for TV” all over it.

MORE INFO: Ben Hart – The Outsider at Underbelly (venue 61), Until 25 August

Originally published in The Scotsman