The Final Trick of a Shoddy Magician (Act 3.6.1 Productions) 2013 Fringe Review

shoddymagicianThe Final Trick of a Shoddy Magician (playing the Annex Theatre as part of the Fringe Festival) gets so, so much right. There’s an outstanding show–and an outstanding performance–at the core of this piece.

But by aiming to be something bigger and better, and by completely missing that target, the product ends up being less than the sum of its parts.

There’s nothing wrong with Steve Boleantu, who plays the title role–the Shoddy Magician–with zeal and aplomb. Perfect as the oily, more-or-less incompetent vaudevillian, when he really gets going, it’s impossible to look away. His half-hour magic act in the middle of the show is astounding, impressive and highly entertaining.

That leaves thirty minutes to fill. I just didn’t find the framing plot all that interesting or original, and the fact that half the show is spent on this circular exposition did not improve my outlook. There’s a story here, and it might be a fascinating one–but it runs directly against the tone and pace set by the magic act, and I think it needs more time, more narrative focus, and more actors in order to sustain itself. As it stands, it mostly just felt disjointed.

And that’s not as bad as I’m making it sound. I accidentally stumbled upon a “family-friendly” performance packed with twelve-year-olds, and they lapped it up; again, there is a lot of fun packed into this show, especially when Boleantu reaches up his sleeve and retrieves an object which cannot be described without spoiling it.

But while the Shoddy Magician is all right, the Final Trick is simply wasted. This show could be a highly comic and entertaining magic act; it could be a deathly-serious melodrama about the things that lurk in the minds of magicians. If they’d pick one or the other and stick with it, this could be an outstanding piece of theatre. But by attempting to achieve both, the company is simply spread too thin, and the result is only halfway successful.

Luckily, it’s a very amusing half.

The Final Trick of a Shoddy Magician plays at the Annex Theatre. (736 Bathurst St.)

Remaining Performances
  • July 07 04:00 PM
  • July 10 12:00 PM (Family-Friendly Performance)
  • July 11 09:15 PM
  • July 12 08:00 PM
  • July 14 12:00 PM
  • Tickets for all Mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only.
  • Advance tickets are $11, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062 ext. 1), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West)
  • Money-saving value packs are also available; see website for details.
  • LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.

Black velvet painting of Steve Boleantu provided by the company.