I’ve always been partial to a bit of prestidigitation. As a child I wanted to be a magician, but I ended up an actor. Is there a difference? Not according to Anton Binder’s one man show, I Married An Alien Card Sharp. For Binder, both deal in ‘lies’.
The problem is, the show is not as interesting as the ideas behind it
Part drama and part magic show, this performance deconstructs the nature of illusions both theatrical and magical. “I am an actor, pretending to be a magician” Binder tells us as he narrates the story of his uncle Sidney, card-sharp and alien abductee. But we soon learn that this is all part of the fiction. Binder unpacks the trope of ‘misdirection’ – a key element in magic – as it pertains to larger issues, such as visible government ‘cover ups’ of UFO sightings designed actually to cover up the development of stealth aircraft. “The magician lies. So does the actor, so does the writer,” as do governments, he reminds us. “They don’t want you to know they have skills.”
The problem is, the show is not as interesting as the ideas behind it, although the attempt to correlate theatre with magic is laudable. In terms of magic, the sleight-of-hand is sometimes visible to the eagle-eyed observer, but there are some good substitutions in there, too. While there is much to be said for a dose of close-up magic, rather than a televised experience, the set-piece tricks may be somewhat familiar. Regarding the narrative, too little use is made of the character of uncle Sidney, whom Binder impersonates sporadically. This being the case, the script moves away from its dramatic centre and becomes so much patter to link a series of card and coin tricks.
Finally, the piece suffers for being properly neither fish nor fowl. It is not quite straight-up magic, and it is certainly not a straight-up play, and so runs the risk of disappointing purist fans of either stripe.