As one of our charming performers puts it, Deceptively Simple is less a magic show and more a show about magic, and the distinction is an important one. As the latter, the show fulfils as both fascinating and funny, but as the former, it leaves a little to be desired.
It’s clear by the way they talk that both Noel Britten and Richard McDougall are very dedicated magicians. Passion mingles with an easy charisma and quick humour, making them joyful to watch together and brilliant hosts for the show’s hour and a half. It’s not a contrived chemistry that drives things forwards, but the warmth of two friends sharing something important to them.
Being in such good hands, the audience feeling would best be described as genuine good-will. A warm and friendly rapport rose quickly and stayed throughout, with no anxious on-the-spot moments many fear from magic shows.
Deceptively Simple is part anecdotal – personal and historical – and part illustrative, in quick, smoothly performed tricks, as an exploration of magic as a world. Stories about a con artist or a World War magician work just as well as displays of impressive sleight of hand. It inspires curiosity, and I left with a mental list of things to look up later.
What tricks they did perform were, though simple, delightful to watch. Practiced, competent and engaging, they lubricated and expanded the evening rather than providing the core substance of the show.
It must be said that those expecting a jaw-dropping display of magic might be disappointed. It’s less an exhibition and more a discussion, and the closing trick seems in want of a climax, ending the show on a bit of a weak note. Nonetheless, Deceptively Simple wins through and makes for an incredibly enjoyable evening on the strength of its candidly likeable performers.
**** – 4 Stars