Mr Swallow and the Vanishing Elephant (3 stars)

This article is from 2018

Mr Swallow and the Vanishing Elephant

credit: Nick Rutter

Conjuring and comedy merge in another Swallow spectacular

The wilfully irritating but curiously loveable Mr Swallow has performed some amazing feats of wonder during his time on the Fringe, from incredible memorisation to perilous Houdini-inspired water-based escapology. But now he's in Edinburgh to attempt the biggest one of them all: to make an elephant disappear before our very eyes! Except the practicalities and sensitivities of making such a preposterous illusion work every day for a month in the same place means that there really is no elephant in the room (or is there … ?).

Instead, Nick Mohammed's creation throws together a cornucopia of magical delights, with more memory games (featuring the Wagamama menu to audience members' names), a floating table and an attempt at sawing himself in half. The appeal of a large-scale Mr Swallow show such as this is twofold: there are the tricks and illusions which, in the main, come off brilliantly, but there is also the character himself.

An uptight, over-enthusiastic, crisps-obsessed man who always stays just on the right side of having a meltdown in a public place, the laughs are always of equal importance to the spectacle. While the gags aren't as plentiful as in previous shows, Mohammed as Swallow as an over-the-top Liverpudlian psychic is a delirious success. And he can do a really good cartwheel.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug, 7.30pm, £11.50–£14.50 (£10.50–£13.50).

Mr. Swallow and the Vanishing Elephant

  • 3 stars

The Pleasance, Nick Mohammed and United Agents Following the five-star, sell-out success of Houdini, Nick Mohammed's alter ego Mr. Swallow is back with another hour of magic, music and elephants. 'Breathtaking' ★★★★★ (Guardian). 'Comic perfection' ★★★★★ (Stage). 'Split-your-sides hilarious' ★★★★★ (Evening Standard).