Lie. Cheat. Steal. Confessions of a Real Hustler

Paul Wilson presents possibly the most low-key magic show at the Fringe this year, but his successes on BBC3’s The Real Hustle practically guarantee him an audience of fans. There’s a reason the TV show is namedropped in the title - it’s the allure of potentially hearing about scams and crime that gives the show an edge. Unfortunately that potential is never fulfilled.

Wilson’s jokes are few and far between and his recurring form of appearing to fail at a trick before adding a final twist becomes tired about halfway through the show – it’s patently obvious that he’s never actually going to fail. The tricks are good, restricted to the types of card tricks and bar games that fill the less interesting slots of the TV show but which are admittedly impressive in the flesh. Wilson is obviously very confident in his abilities, conning a member of the audience repeatedly and easily building tension in the small stuffy space.

Throughout the show Wilson provides short stories about the tricks he’s performing and the magicians who came up with them. Only once or twice are we treated to an anecdote of his very own and this is a problem. For a show with ‘Confessions’ in the title there’s little that’s personal in Wilson’s set; the show feels almost as impersonal as his TV appearances. Those members of the audience who were asked to participate no doubt felt it was an interactive experience, but anyone not in the front row might struggle to engage in the close-up sleight of hand that is clearly Wilson’s speciality. However, Wilson still has plenty of charisma and an air of deviousness that can carry the show through its duller moments and the fan base that will make up the majority of his audience need little impressing.

Reviews by Frankie Goodway

New Diorama Theatre

In Our Hands

★★★
Museum of Comedy

Jo Burke: iScream

★★
Pleasance Courtyard

zazU: A Fête Worse Than Death

★★★★
Just the Tonic at The Mash House

1 Given Head

★★★
Just the Tonic at The Mash House

Scott Bennett: About a Roy (Stories About Me Dad)

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Rhys James: Remains

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

Paul Wilson is star of BBC3’s hit show The Real Hustle and the world’s foremost expert on cons and scams. Discover impossible feats of skill and learn the weapons of mass deception.

Most Popular See More

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Heathers The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets