The Chore of Enchantment (4 stars)

This article is from 2018

The Chore of Enchantment

Magic can make the doom disappear

A magic show about Brexit, Trump and impending climate catastrophe? You bet. Strictly speaking, those current global nightmares provide the all-pervasive context for magician Vincent Gambini's thoughtful, thought-provoking show. Having spent all his life shut away perfecting his craft, he's been unaware that the world's about to fall apart. However, now he's woken up to the fact, it's making him question why he's even doing this ridiculous activity at all. And why, given how bad everything is, a group of strangers would gather in a darkened windowless room to watch him do it.

The Chore of Enchantment is a long way from wall-to-wall doom and gloom, however. Gambini is a softly spoken, drily amusing performer, continually drawing attention to the mechanics of what he's doing while pulling off some impeccable sleight of hand. But what makes the hour really special is that this is a magic show about magic itself – our need for wonder and miracles in our current dark times, even if we know it's all made up.

Yes, it's all quite meta at times, and Gambini uses the distancing device of a dream to allow him to complete what he claims is his final show, without having a breakdown as he did at his previous attempt. But this is a brilliantly provocative blend of theatre and magic, as challenging and stimulating as it is entertaining.

Underbelly Bristo Square, until 27 Aug (not 13, 20), 5.45pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).

The Chore of Enchantment

  • 4 stars

Vincent Gambini (with Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts) The world is in turmoil. Can magic provide the much-needed solace for these difficult times? Vincent Gambini is not so sure. Disillusioned by global news events, struggling with "magician's block", Gambini unveils the hidden difficulties of being a conjurer.