Ben Hart, in his heavy, oversized woollen suit, styles himself as something of a refugee from the interwar period. His show is loaded with references to Freudian psychoanalysis, controlled psychedelic experimentation, early forensic studies, and, in a slight anachronistic departure, Lorenzian chaos theory. The net effect is that Hart is able to take this organic, lore-rich context and use it to imprint a refreshingly unique style into his magical repertoire.
And what a repertoire it is! If you've seen enough magic shows of a sufficient calibre then some of these tricks will seem a bit familiar, but Hart has more than a few tricks up his sleeves to keep his act fluid and varied. I was particularly impressed with a part of the show that I will simply refer to as 'The Letting', where things went in a bit of a shocking direction before Hart adeptly took things back on track and revealed how the diversion was simply part of his master pattern.
There's also the glass and fan routine, which is damned impressive – even, I suspect, for the few people out there who know how it might be accomplished.
Hart is a substantial magician with an eclectic style, an approachable demeanour, and an absolute command of his act. The Nutshell is well worth a visit if you're in the mood for a skilled, accomplished performer channelling a bit of an interwar-punk vibe.
Ben Hart: The Nutshell plays at the Garden of Unearthly Delights until the close of the Fringe. Tickets can be purchased here.