Oliver Meech: Live Brain Surgery - Free

I really wanted to like this show. It was such a good idea, to take something outrageous and unexpected, and use it to set you apart from every other magic show at the Fringe. Unfortunately the execution of that premise had me squirming in my seat and looking at my watch within the first three minutes. When you advertise live brain surgery, you rather have to carry it out. Oh, Oliver Meech, you tried, but you really weren’t very good at it. Flapping ineffectually around a cardboard box on top of a man’s head, before awkwardly conjuring strawberry laces and crepe paper from it, would struggle to keep a five-year-old audience entertained, let alone an adult one. But I stayed, and thank God, it got better. When Meech abandoned the neuroscientist skit and started doing what he is clearly good at – magic – there was a noticeable step up in both quality and confidence. A few of the tricks are a bit naff and unconvincing, and genuinely impressive magic is liberally peppered with illusions most people will have seen on the internet, or body contortions every 14-year-old knows. But some of his better material wrenched real gasps of awe from his large audience. Perhaps it is a matter of contrast.Meech himself is a lanky, slightly awkward man in scrubs and a labcoat. He loped about the stage with an air of abject self-awareness, and for most of the hour I was on the edge of my seat to see if he would hit his head on the low arched ceiling. His determination for audience participation was laudable but risky, given the seeming predominance of non-English speakers in the audience.The number of stars I wanted to give this show grew steadily as the hour wore on, and the final trick had my heart beating hard in my chest. The magic really was very good, but it wasn’t what I was promised.

Reviews by Leila Battison

The Blurb

Journey inside some extraordinary minds with magic boffin Oliver Meech. Experience gruesome surgery, bizarre neurological phenomena and freaky tricks in this mind-expanding, mind-blowing magic show. 2010 show: 'fascinated' (Fest), **** (LoveFringe). www.magicmeech.com