Theatre review: The Expert at the Card Table


ALTHOUGH this combination of illusion and storytelling tells the purportedly true story of the real author of the century-old book of the same name, be aware, because nothing is quite what it seems: conjuror Guy Hollingworth is a trickster, whose "mistakes" are merely misdirection and whose story may just be something similar.

It's a fascinating tale, though, one that deals in madness, betrayal, deceit and murder, and it's convincingly told due to Hollingworth's almost complete lack of theatricality. This softly spoken, pleasant young man is like the anti-David Blaine, drawing you into his confidence through his subtle showmanship.

This may not make Hollingworth a compelling storyteller – although the tale holds your attention – but as a close-up magician he's close to superb. A large video screen linked to a camera pointing straight down at the card table affords the whole audience a clear view of the sleight-of-hand. It's a neat touch, yet no matter how hard you stare, Hollingworth's trickery still astounds. A basic knowledge of poker hands may help, but is in no way essential to your enjoyment of this original and entertaining show.

As for the story – it might be true, but Hollingworth will have you fooled one way or another.

• Until 25 August. Today 3:35pm