In his brand-new show "50", Ben Hanlin bravely attempts an incredible feat; fifty magic tricks in fifty minutes. While the show in fact ran over by about ten minutes, somewhat defeating the purpose of it, I still found it to be an entertaining and thrilling ride. As you can imagine, the show is incredibly fast paced and keeps your eyes fixed to the stage, out of fear that you may miss a single moment of a trick. Hanlin also includes an education in magic tricks and he shows off just how much of a self-proclaimed 'magic nerd' he truly is. For example, he describes different experiences he has had watching other magicians as he grew up, and guides the audience into feeling that same love of magic. He describes how he felt seeing a particular trick and then proceeds to do that same magic trick himself. I was hesitant that I may start to feel his show and tricks to be unoriginal, but Hanlin weaves the old, familiar tricks with his own, new inventions.
Despite it being a completely new show, that even Hanlin admits at times is unpolished, I found "50" to be crafted incredibly well. While the show did run over to about an hour, it is still an amazing achievement. Hanlin has clearly worked incredibly hard to find the right tone for this show. He is sometimes wonderfully funny, and other times very serious, the perfect combination to keep the audience entertained. Most of all, Hanlin is friendly and approachable, which is everything you need an entertainer to be. He is kind to the audience, which makes them want to actively participate, rather than begrudgingly be selected for a trick. Hanlin does not presume the audience should be just as fascinated by magic as he is, yet appears to wish that they leave with an excited and uplifting feeling. I can say for sure that I felt this way for hours after the show ended.
There are indeed kinks that need working out; timings could be sharper, the tricks easier to see and even a couple felt a tad too easy to predict. However, if you are looking for an energetic, bemusing and fun show that does not take itself too seriously, Ben Hanlin’s "50" is certainly the place.
Ben Hanlin’s "50" is on every day at The Pleasance Dome at 7pm.
Verity Sawyer for Fresh Fringe.