Dom Chambers, dressed in a black T-shirt, hoodie and jeans, is not a typical magician in appearance or manner. Throughout A Boy and His Deck (yes it is meant to have the ambiguity of a New Zealand pronunciation), he weaves in a narrative about how he became fascinated with cards and performing card tricks.
He seems to have been particularly nerdy in his delight in looking at his cards until he reveals what the images on those cards actually were. We learn of his desire to become an acknowledged card-trick magician and to receive a “deck of legend” by an acclaimed master magician.
Chambers’ tricks are slick, his performance is polished and the time passes quickly. Audience members are invited to assist and their involvement adds to the laughs and informality of the show. A camera aimed at the card table enables the tricks to be projected onto a larger screen and occasionally images on the screen add to the comedy.
There is an excellent moment when Chambers satirises the poses, facial expressions and melodramatic gestures of “serious” magicians; he shows he is not only a skilled illusionist, but also a good comic and impressionist.
Good storytellers and comedians are able to spin a yarn with seemingly unrelated threads but in the end they manage to connect the tangents and demonstrate that the narrative was always going to knit neatly together. Chambers saves his best tricks for a big finish but cleverly reminds us of things he said earlier in the show and a matter of significance related to 10 people sitting in the front row.
Yes, we have all seen magicians ask someone to pick a card and, after a few shuffles, split the deck and select the chosen card. Chambers goes further, however, and has 10 people choose a card, then finds novel ways of finding them all.
Dom Chambers: A Boy and his Deck is particularly worth seeing for his ritualistic “Card a Sutra” and the “card in the wallet”. Even when it looks as though he has made an error, he comes up trumps.
Dom Chambers: A Boy and his Deck is at the Umbrella Revolution in the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 21.
Read more Adelaide Fringe reviews and previews here.
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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.