Dave Alnwick, a veteran of the Edinburgh Fringe magic circuit, is one of the more visually striking performers you're likely to see here. Not because he stands out from a crowd, so much as he doesn't look like a traditional magician, with his mop of ginger hair, thick-rimmed glasses and unassumingly casual dress. Don't judge on appearances though, Alnwick is a real master of his craft, consummately confident performer and a wonderful showman who owns his look and incorporates it into his act. You might even spot people walking around Edinburgh with his hair and specs emblazoned onto a T-shirt.
Alnwick is a real master of his craft, consummately confident performer and a wonderful showman
On the point of his confidence, Alnwick has a novel stage persona of an almost cartoonish level of overblown arrogance that would invoke ire from the audience in the hands of a lesser magician. Alnwick, however, lovingly plays up to it, earning admiration and affection by constantly boasting about his brilliance and referring to himself as Literally the Best Magician. No mean feat!
He opens the show with some admin, asking the audience how they found his show in the Voodoo Rooms Ballroom, possibly the best room the PBH Free Fringe has to offer. He is immediately likeable, but some might prefer him to get stuck straight in with the performance. Over the course of the next hour Alnwick treats us to a wide range of top quality magic, delivered in his inimitable style that has the whole audience on his side throughout.
The finale is very strong and the show has some real highlights as Alnwick impresses with his sleight of hand, hilarious patter and improvised comical asides. Much of his set includes staples of stage magic, such as rope tricks and sponge balls, but Alnwick makes them his own with perfectly scripted and delivered storytelling. He uses volunteers effectively and it's hard not to love him as he holds the room in the palm of his hand. If you've seen him in previous Fringes, that's no excuse not to go back as Alnwick gets better year after year, although not much of the material is new.
He ends his show with his traditional schtick of having the audience chant his name, which some might be compelled to do even if they weren't overtly invited. Alnwick has three shows this year with the PBH Free Fringe and there's no doubt that they're all of a quality that would make the expensive magicians on the paid Fringe seethe with jealousy. So, check one of them out, and join the festival in the catchiest chant this city has to offer: Dave! Dave! Dave! Dave!