STRAIGHT AND LACED
FRINGE WORLD FESTIVAL 2020
6 February to 9 February
From magicians Jon Madd and Paul James comes Straight and Laced, a magic show set in a cosy theatre with a good few jokes thrown in the mix. It’s an hour long gig but never felt like it because Madd and James are clearly masters of their craft, pulling off tricks with deft hands and witty deception, and it’s enough to imbue you with a sense of childlike wonder you’ve been missing since you paid your first gas bill. Though presented as a dual act, the two don’t interact as much as you might expect, instead opting to present tricks one after the other. However, this doesn’t take away much from the show, as it instead gives each piece of magic a different flavour in the contrasting way the two present; James opts for a suave, traditional feel, where Madd goes for a looser, informal tone.
Madd and James are clearly masters of their craft, pulling off tricks with deft hands and witty deception, and it’s enough to imbue you with a sense of childlike wonder you’ve been missing since you paid your first gas bill.
The small setting of the theatre means you’ll be seeing tricks up and close, which makes it all the more impressive that they land so well. You can expect you or your friend/s to participate in at least one trick, be it shuffling an imaginary deck of cards or choosing a certain kind of sock, and this kind of audience interaction made every piece of magic feel genuine and astounding. When I was standing up there, holding info cards on how celebrities died and cutting the decks myself, it was mindboggling that it could be predicted with such smooth deception despite me seeing the show from a whole new angle. It also makes the walk home fun when you’re arguing about how the magic was done and you can’t even say they planted people in the audience because you were part of the tricks.
There were a good amount of tricks throughout the performance which grew progressively more complicated and impressive as it went on. Toward the end, each piece of magic could have four or five mini tricks contained within, and some of them were downright astounding – James solves a rubix cube someone else messed up behind his back in less than ten moves while we’re watching it, and that’s only part of the trick.
The ending of the show was a particularly impressive feat. Throughout the performance cards would be put to the side, notes would be taken, and jokes would be made, but the way in which they came together for the finale was astounding and memorable. Overall, Straight and Laced is a feel-good exploration of magic made fun, perfect for an ending to a good day out or post-meal entertainment, and though the comedy is light, it’s entertaining enough and lets the true meat of the show – the magic – really shine through.