Esoterica (5 stars)

This article is from 2008.


No ordinary card

The paradox of a culture that loves to see magic and the sixth sense at work, while refusing to believe in either of them, becomes particularly apparent when, sitting in a darkened room watching one man appear to read another man’s mind, your brain desperately tries to rationalise what it has just seen. Going beyond magic tricks to take in telepathy and the mysterious ‘third eye’, the term ‘esoterica’ literally means ‘that which is reserved for the understanding of a select few’.

Written and performed by Eric Walton, this show blends card skills and people-reading, demonstrating just what an intensely-trained intellect can achieve. Walton has created a strong, clearly defined character for himself: the sharp, flashy suit, coupled with his air of having swallowed several encyclopaedias, could have been intimidating for the audience, were it not for his charming, cheeky delivery, and determined attempts to learn the name of every audience member before the show’s end.

Walton’s is an act that belongs to a much bigger stage. Here he has only the bare essentials: a table, a mysterious envelope and, of course, a deck of cards. He conducts us through a kind of poetic, mystic, philosophical history lesson while moving smoothly from trick to impressive trick, his polished routine still allowing for moments of humour as he refuses to take himself too seriously.

The illusions themselves all build to gasp-inducing crescendos, each trick astounding the already baffled crowd with its combination of maths and memory. The audience, pressed to volunteer and trying, as always, to wrong-foot a performer who is clearly smarter than everyone else in the room, does not stand a chance. A master of his art, Walton’s Esoterica is highly recommended to all at this Fringe.

Underbelly’s Baby Belly, 0844 545 8252, until 24 Aug, 9.05pm, £10–£11.


  • 5 stars

This exciting blend of card skills and people-reading marks out performer Eric Walto as deserving of a much bigger stage. 'Part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe'.

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