Likeable laddish Midlands magician Ben Hamlin fronts ITV2’s Tricked in which the general public and some sub-prime celebrities (Louie Spence, random spraytans from TOWIE) are teased with close-up conjuring and mind games, Candid Camera-style. Trickhead is his debut Edinburgh hour and the illusions are as gobsmackingly unbelievable as they are on TV.
Sometimes billed as ‘the bastard love child of Brian Cox and Derren Brown’ (or at least he should be) Hanlin has Brian Cox’s flat hair and vowels but much of his audience interaction and several of the illusions are inspired directly by Brown’s work in live shows like Enigma and Miracle. He works alone with only a stage manager to carry props on and off – there are no hidden cameras, complex apparatus or lighting effect – and mostly with paper, a pack of cards and a chalkboard.
It’s a sudden and unnerving revelation that anyone other than Brown can perfect such complex mind-control stage magic but delightful that Hanlin is both cheaper and nicer. That stage geekiness also masks a fiercer intelligence. His friendly manner makes his a show where you needn’t be anxious about putting your hand up and taking part – no one humiliated or made to imitate farm animals here. That he can deliver such excellence for a fraction of the ticket price and without patronising his audiences makes this a must-see.
Hanlin asks the audience not to reveal the nature of the tricks, but safe to say the one with the numbers and the one where you tear up some paper will have you puzzling all the way to the bar. But the one based on a dating app will have you puzzling all the way to the next time you see this guy on stage.
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