Mr Swallow @ Pleasance Courtyard
Frustratingly uneven performance from one of the Fringe’s best-loved characters
Nick Mohammed’s mildly unhinged comic alter-ego Mr Swallow returns to the Fringe determined to top (or match) the success of his last outing, a rapturously received musical tribute to the magic of Harry Houdini. It’s a tall order, and to achieve this, he’s going to have to deal with the elephant (Hayley, who may or may not be in the room).
It’s another homage to the great escapologist, who performed his own Vanishing Elephant trick exactly a century ago. The fanfare intro, and impressive production values throughout (furniture floats around the stage as if by, well, magic, and a wand is employed, Alexa-like, to deliver potato-based snacks on demand) are complemented by Mr Swallow’s relentless enthusiasm for performance.
There is no quelling Mohammed’s energy levels, which serve to compensate for occasions when the magic tricks underwhelm, such as a newspaper tear and restore trick which seems a little low on ambition. And the finale, requiring considerable skill and meticulous pre-show preparation, relies a little too heavily on a will he/won’t he narrative that simply doesn’t need to exist – the routine is impressive in spite of the X-Factor style tension ratchet, not because of it.
Mr Swallow and the Vanishing Elephant, Pleasance Courtyard (One), 1-26 Aug, 7:30pm, £7-14.50
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