Ben Hart – The Outsider

Rating ****
Reviewed by Alex Foott

Directed by Anthony Owen
Performance date – Fri 2nd Aug 2013

Ben Hart is, in his own words, ‘not your normal kind of magician’. He is revolutionary. Altogether a new species of conjurer, Hart is ready to ascend the throne. Gone are the days of the socially awkward illusionist, sporting a grungy t-shirt and an unnervingly intense gaze. Instead he oozes with charisma and Etonian boyish good looks, flashing his pearly whites at the audience and leaving both men and women in a fluster. Perhaps this is his technique of distraction! His sheer joy at being on stage is almost tangible as he dances his way through a multitude of illusions. It seems as though his sole reason for living is to feast on the awe and admiration that emanates from his audience.

The phrase ‘at home on the stage’ is thrown about too liberally these days, with every other teenager ogling a place in the spotlight. However, for Ben Hart, it is his very lifeblood. The Outsider feels like a party we have been invited to, with Hart as our slightly Gatsby-esque host. He demonstrates his flair for summoning and vanishing various objects with the disarming sweetness of a child. He was continually in control, save for one trick that went awry and a brief technical hiccup, and even then he laughed them off and ploughed on to the next surprise with boundless enthusiasm. His tricks are innovative and are delivered in such a way that you never see any slight of hand or masking. It is as though he really possesses extraordinary powers.

Impressively, Hart invents the vast majority of his tricks. He is imaginative and playful and leaves the audience scratching their heads with wonder, at one point, producing a living creature from the most unlikely of places. If you are bored with the standard ‘nothing up my sleeve’ illusionist, then Ben Hart is sure to resuscitate and maintain your interest in magic. This man was born not only to entertain, but to enchant. And what’s more, he can be booked for private events!