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The Chore of Enchantment review at Underbelly Bristo Square, Edinburgh – ‘fitfully entertaining’

Vincent Gambini in The Chore of Enchantment at Underbelly, Edinburgh. Photo: Rosie Powell

Vincent Gambini’s previous show – called This Is Not a Magic Show even though it very definitely was one – combined sleight of hand with something more meta-theatrical and exploratory. It looked at the mechanics of the magic show, simultaneously resisting and embracing them.

In his new show, he attempts a similar trick. He claims to be struggling with “magician’s block” – what use is magic in a world in free fall? It’s just another way of hiding from reality.

Though seemingly preoccupied by the headlines on his phone, Gambini still manages to squeeze in a number of illusions. Coins and balls vanish and reappear. There are card routines and a rope trick. He performs one trick while wearing a sleeping mask. The amount of practice required to pull this stuff off seamlessly requires hours of seclusion: as he explains, magic can be isolating.

He’s clearly fascinated by the layers of deception inherent in any magic show – Gambini himself is the creation of Augusto Corrieri. The Chore of Enchantment has a dream-like circular structure – on a chair sits a script, which he occasionally consults, underlining the fact that magic is about repurposing the familiar. The last routine is particularly poetic. But his pessimistic anti-patter and rejection of spectacle, while conceptually intriguing, makes for a show that’s only fitfully entertaining.

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Thoughtful meta-theatrical magic show that doesn’t quite sustain itself over an hour