The slick, polished tricks of Edinburgh-based magician Lewis Barlow take you back to TV magic shows of the 1970s, and you’ll probably leave his show feeling intrigued rather than challenged. Jerry Sadowitz he is not.
Barlow plays on the pedigree of his material – traditional card and coin tricks, some understated mindreading – and admits that several of his stunts go back decades, if not centuries. There’s an old-fashioned charm to show that seems at odds with the youthful, fresh-faced performer.
This isn’t to say that his skills aren’t impressive. He’s great in his card manipulation, and the intimate (ie tiny) setting of The Vault gives everyone a close-up view. He can shuffle a pack to deal complete suits, and make a card signed by an audience member appear from within a sealed pack. He accurately identifies a company chosen at random from the Yellow Pages and even gets its phone number right, showing that he’d written it all down before the show even started.
What he’s mostly lacking, though, is a strong personality – chat between the tricks is weak, and there’s little humour to keep the audience entertained. Without a strong individual stamp to put on his well-worn material, at times it all seems a bit pedestrian.
Lewis Barlow: Experiments in Mystery, Mon 4-Fri 8 July, 7pm, The Vault, Merchant St