The Two Magicians with Kane & Abel
  • By Ben Dali
  • |
  • 13th Aug 2019
  • |
  • ★★★★

Edinburgh Fringe's premier magical twins, Kane and Abel, return for their sixth run here in their regular home as the flagship magicians of PBH's Free Fringe venue the Liquid Rooms nightclub.

They build themselves up to be rock-stars, and to many, they will be.

They open with flirtatious charm and all the chemistry you would expect from two people who have grown together as magicians and humans. It is clear from the outset that these two are true showmen, with carefully designed caricatures which blur the lines between slapstick and old-school Vaudeville. As a rule of thumb, Ed (Kane) is the straight man and Laurence (Abel) is the fall-guy who appears on stage in a range of farcical guises, and they bounce off each other as well as any double act you've ever seen on TV.

They open the show effectively, building themselves up to be rock stars, and by the end of the show, to many, they will be. While the patter is strong, the twins are not the most natural of actors. They play a range of characters, including Ed's Ronnie Corbett, and though he doesn't quite embody the mannerisms, it doesn't matter as the performance is fun. It’s also a nice touch to reward those old enough, or so inclined, to be familiar with Corbett.

That being said, one suspects that the majority of the audience may feel a bit disconnected from this section, despite it standing alone without awareness of The Two Ronnies. At one point, they ask the audience if we are familiar with the comedy duo whose influence echoes throughout the show. This is one of the cues for audience response that is met with silence.

The magical elements are designed and performed well, with all the wonderment one would hope for from two seasoned pros. The tricks are well varied and pay-offs are high with a number of fun twists too. It feels like they’ve put a bigger emphasis on getting laughs than gasps this year but there are plenty of both. This is most evident in the finale which is not the mindblowing high point one would hope from a magic show as an over-used magic trick is presented in a comedy scenario.

If you’re after a funny magic show that is enjoyable for children to octogenarians and has little on-stage involvement from audience members, this should definitely be on your shortlist. These endlessly watchable performers deliver some clever puns, self-aware groaners delivered with vim and vigour, and what could be the funniest use of a carrot in Edinburgh Fringe’s 72-year history. You would be forgiven for thinking the number of jokes reinforcing their hope for you to pay £10 on the way out is overly plentiful, but in all fairness, the show is worth it.

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The Blurb

Proving two truly is better than one, Fringe favourites Kane & Abel bring their brand-new show paying homage to double acts. The 'comedic, contemporary and charismatic' (***** (Channel 44)) conjurors perform magic, comedy and sketches while tipping the hat to the golden age of TV. 'If these guys had been around thirty years’ ago, they’d have their own Saturday night television show... like a Morecambe and Wise of magic, both shine individually as comedians and as magicians' **** ( 'Seriously impressive' (BBC Radio Bristol).

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