Theatre review: Return of the Close-Up Magician, C Nova (Venue 145), Edinburgh

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THERE’S a bit of a double misnomer about this show, from multi-award-winning Scottish magician Lewis Barlow: its Fringe listing categorises it as theatre, which it’s not – it’s a magic show – and the close-up part only occupies around half of its 50-minute running time, the remainder being devoted to what Americans nowadays call mentalism (a word with rather different connotations on these shores), in other words, apparent mind-reading.

Return of the Close-Up Magician

C Nova (Venue 145)

Star rating: * * *

Habituated as we are to TV magicians, there is a timelessly alluring purity about the kind of close-up routines that Barlow, a former president of the Edinburgh Magic Circle, performs first – card tricks, rope tricks, vanishing tricks, pulling coins through a silk handkerchief, solving a Rubik’s cube by simply tossing it once in the air – and he executes them flawlessly, though the intermittent amplification of a needless lapel mike proved a little distracting on this occasion.

He also seemed oddly nervous, for a performer of 20 years’ experience, though this was tempered by likeably self-deprecating humour. The “mind-reading” section of the show – explained in the now-familiar terms of reading non-verbal communication – was likewise impressively baffling, though the items memorised by the audience volunteers (more cards, Yellow Pages entries) might have been more imaginatively chosen.

Until 27 August. Today, 8pm.