Reviews Edinburgh Fringe 2018 Published 18 August 2018

Edinburgh fringe review: The Chore of Enchantment at Underbelly

Sleight of hand: Vincent Gambini’s magic show is an exploration of political deception.

Nicole Serratore

‘The Chore of Enchantment’. Photo: Hugo Glendinning

There’s something deeply satisfying in the chill, philosophical style of Vincent Gambini the magician. His show, The Chore of Enchantment, is what he calls a theater magic show which means to him it is “slower and a bit sad.” So if you’re expecting loud and splashy, you might be disappointed.

I’ve always found magicians a bit needy. The constant clapping for the things they’ve done. They are talented and skilled in their art form, but do you really need me to validate that every five minutes? Derren Brown, I get it. You’re really good but do you know how boring an entire evening of amazing feats can be.

I know, I’m a lot of fun.

Suffice to say, Gambini’s ultra-casual “Is this the show?” vibe is right up my alley. There’s nary a “ta da.” Objects do suddenly appear and disappear. But he’s less interested in making a big deal about that. He treats it as an incidental byproduct of this conversation he’s having with us about the psychology of politics.

He’s circling the ideas of distraction, illusion, and deception in magic but how those sensations sought in this performance may be the things poisoning us in politics. Context is everything.

“We’re getting sold an illusion of change,” he says about social change while making a ball vanish and then reappear. Are we seeking to avoid the world around us by attending a magic show? “What are you doing here?” he asks, “What are you escaping from?” He’s depressed about performing magic, “Surely there is enough deception in the world.”

He returns over and over to the ideas of duality and paradoxes. As with magic, “It’s really a deception and it’s really happening.” He focuses on dreams and the dual existence of being both in the world and in a dream at the same time. His story structure also slightly mirrors his thesis—a magician trapped in a therapeutic dream when a show goes badly reliving the bad show over and over. Politics, again, he says can be like a bad dream or being stuck in a loop. So here we are trapped in his show and trapped in the cycle of political deception.

I find Gambini (alter ego of performance artist Augusto Corrieri) funny and droll. But it’s a subtle delivery. I laughed a lot but also noticed maybe not everyone else around me was laughing. He’s cutting against expectations which is a risk. In a larger venue and with folks maybe anticipating something traditional, he’s definitely not that. He certainly delivers on exceptional sleight of hand magic and no one can complain they did not get a “magic show.” However, they may not have planned to have a think about Brexit in card trick form.

The Chore of Enchantment does not have as strong a conceptual payoff as his first show This is Not a Magic Show. But I quite liked his gentle needling on the consideration of performance in politics.

The Chore of Enchantment is on at Underbelly until 27th August, as part of the 2018 Edinburgh fringe. More info here.

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Nicole Serratore

Nicole Serratore writes about theater for The Village Voice, The Stage, American Theatre magazine, TDF Stages, and Flavorpill. She was a co-host and co-producer of the Maxamoo theater podcast. She blogs at Mildly Bitter's Musings.

Edinburgh fringe review: The Chore of Enchantment at Underbelly Show Info


Produced by Sally Rose

Directed by Augusto Corrieri

Written by Augusto Corrieri, Dramaturgy: Deborah Pearson

Cast includes Vincent Gambini

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