Fresh off becoming a household name through finishing third in this year's Britain's Got Talent, Ben Hart capitalises on his momentum by returning to the festival where he first built his reputation. In The Nutshell, Hart justifies his worthiness of being officially recognised as one of the most talented performers Britain has to offer.
Ben Hart may well have the best magic show on the Fringe.
He articulates a well written and rehearsed script, delivering original jokes you won't hear in every other magic show you attend. With an affectionate, self-mocking style, he endearingly shrugs off the cheesier of puns. Hart keeps the audience on side with an overly excited response to a girl's first ever use of a nutcracker, and successfully pulls off funny remarks to each audience-wide reaction.
Inviting his audience into his world, Ben talks personably about his past and his passions, in a way that is genuine and enthralling. It's a genuine pleasure to watch the magician juggle master storytelling with seemingly impossible magic effects. He delivers a whirlwind of tricks that are built up to perfection, never feeling dragged out. The camera follows him on stage for the more close-up effects, streaming his image to the back. This allows Hart to execute both full-stage illusions, as well as more intimate pieces. At one point, the camera adds some impressive special effects to enhance his narration.
Hart inspires a range of emotions in his audience, from suspense during the fascinating anecdotes providing background to some pieces, to horror, as he appears to scar his body in the name of entertainment. There are times when it's clear we're being fooled, as impossible coincidences are executed time and time again – proving that what was presented as random could not have been. But, hey, that's magic for you!
The finale to the show is a real thrill, tying everything together perfectly and ensuring the audience have something to discuss on the way out of the show. It's hard to fault The Nutshell if you enjoy live magic and want to see tricks performed by the magician who created them, with the personal touch that only their creator can offer. Hart probably isn't the absolute best magician on the Fringe, but he may well have the best magic show out there.