Most magic shows you find on the Fringe nowadays are necessarily intimate, close-up affairs – not least because of the size of the available venues, budgets and the 'close magic' effectiveness of many of the tricks (a standard box of cards is not easily seen from the back of a large hall, after all). So, if nothing else, Richard Young and Sam Strange must be praised for successfully filling what must surely be the largest venue currently hosting PBH's Free Fringe; not only that, for bringing a taste of the big, bold and brash stadium-magic show – bombastic music, sweeping lights, huge props, OTT gestures and all–too Edinburgh.
With decades of performance experience between them, you can't really fault what Young and Strange do, even if many of the tricks are simply their own variations on pretty familiar routines. On the downside, even if you're in the first few rows of seats, you're still some distance from the action happening up on the stage; as a result, the impact of their smaller, 'slight of hand' tricks feels somewhat lost. The idea, too, that after some initial success as a magic duo, there was an accident and serious falling out, only gets them so far before it runs into the simple reality of this show not being a one-off reunion, but actually a three week run.
Young and Strange do work together well, though; Strange appearing the more showbiz of the pair, determined to put the best spin on their TV career so far (with a Powerpoint demonstration to prove it) while Young dreams of performing more sophisticated magic tricks and (quite possibly) a quiet life. Their on-stage bickering rises naturally from this contrivance; it's just a shame that their renewed friendship at the close comes across as simply an excuse for what is certainly a remarkably simple, yet clearly effective final trick – one that, ignoring all previous warnings, Young and Strange quite rightly encourage the audience to record.