FRINGE 2018 REVIEW: 'Please Shuffle the Cards'

The ingredients of a successful magic show are talent and lots of practice

click to enlarge "Please Shuffle the Cards" - PHOTO: Jeff Burkle
PHOTO: Jeff Burkle
"Please Shuffle the Cards"

Watching a magic show is a strange experience. On the one hand, you want to suspend disbelief and just go with it. There’s even a part of you pervading into adulthood that wants to believe the magic is real. But as performer Erik Tait puts it in his award-winning show Please Shuffle the Cards, there’s no magic. It’s all just talent and lots of practice. 

Please Shuffle the Cards is a solo performance by Tait, who is also its writer and director, as well as a sleight-of-hand artist and trivia expert. He pushes the boundaries between skill and magic. This is his first Cincy Fringe, and his show is admittedly a bit different. There’s no story being told and it’s not “art” in any traditional sense — there’s no music or dancing or drama. But it is a lot of fun.

Before the show starts, Tait invites the audience to interact. There’s a deck of cards on the table at the front of the room at the Over-the-Rhine Community Church, the table that Tait occupies throughout the show with a camera on his hands and a screen displaying the video behind him. One by one, the brave venture up to take their turn. Perhaps it will all have been for naught, because surely the deck was switched somehow at some point. I won’t spoil how it ultimately comes into play in the show itself.

Tait brings up two members of the audience, and what’s great about the show is he plays into what everyone is thinking. There’s a very post-modern sense of playfulness and awareness to how he acknowledges he could be lying and the two audience members could be plants. Or maybe he’s just that good. It’s more fun to go along with believing he’s really that good.

Other than that, it’s hard to review the show without spelling out specific tricks in minute detail. Putting the words down on paper would remove the magic — and I’d never want to do that. 

The Cincinnati Fringe Festival runs through June 10. Find showtimes, tickets and more info here.

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