The Big Birthday Show With Magic Gareth
- Lucy Ribchester
- 16 August 2021
Silliness and thrills in Magic Gareth's slick Fringe tribute to those who missed their birthday party last year
The stage is set with bow-tied boxes. On the cabaret tables (socially distanced, in family groups) there are polka-dot party hats. It can only mean one thing: it's time for a birthday party. 'Did anyone have a birthday last year?' Magic Gareth (aka Gareth White) asks the crowd. Scores of children earnestly put up their hands. 'Then this is for you!' It's a charming concept, gentle, celebratory, slightly silly, and with enough of a theme to lightly tie together the threads of White's roster of classic tricks.
It's also White in his element: he's a regular children's party magician, with exactly the kind of brimming energy and quickfire punchlines you need to keep a group of sugared-up under-tens rapt for 40 minutes. Of course the tricks are slick, and yes, as one of the accompanying grown-ups you will probably recognise a few. But it's a nostalgic delight to see children's eyes pop at their first sight of a disappearing red sponge ball, or at the timeless cutting and repairing of a magic rope. And as with all children's entertainers it's the patter that counts the most.
This is White's greatest strength; he keeps it positive at all times, empowers the children (they are the ones using their stares or finger-pointing to make the magic happen) and is unflappable in the face of surely some of the worst hecklers a live performer has to deal with (five-year-olds shouting 'that's not magic!' anyone?). Best of all he can string a payoff out through one, two, three reveals until it's impossible to keep your hands from bursting into applause. After last year, what family with young children could ask for more?
The Big Birthday Show With Magic Gareth, Pleasance Courtyard, until Sunday 22 August (not Monday 16), 12.30pm, £7–£28 (£5–£20).