A Regular Little Houdini
Bracing solo show remembers the great escapologist's visit to South Wales
Harry Houdini performed twice in the maybe unlikely location of Newport, South Wales, Daniel Llewellyn-Williams's solo play A Regular Little Houdini for Flying Bridge Theatre informs us. And it was there, amid the grime and danger of the town's docking and industrial heyday, that he inspired a 10-year-old to pursue his own career in magic and escapology.
That's the surprising but promising set-up for Llewellyn-Williams's energetic show, and in it he manages to bring together family dramas, the ruthlessness of Edwardian industry and the sparkling hope of a career in magic with a deft gracefulness. But it's also as if he's aimed across too broad a range of targets to treat any of them with the depth they deserve.
He pulls off a few magic tricks, but not enough to satisfy a hardened magic enthusiast; and likewise, his social commentary on turn-of-the-century exploitation gets rather swept up in his undeniably bracing, vivid storytelling. His delivery too, while unstoppably enthusiastic and energetic, feels rather relentless, to the extent that two big tragedies that erupt out of nowhere achieve less of an emotional impact than they should. Nevertheless, it's an ambitious, skillfully presented show that casts a revealing light on an unusual collision of time and celebrity.
Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug, 12.20pm, £7.50–£10 (£6.50–£9).