It’s so bright, cramped and humid, it shouldn’t work. The audience are pressed together on haphazard wooden seats, there’s daylight outside (soon to be deafening torrential rain, but that’s Melbourne for you), and the last thing you’d expect is to be captivated and entertained, but we quickly are.
Scott Silven presents a gentler show than you might imagine one would be that embraces the wonders of magic and mentalism. There’s no spectacle as such, just Scott’s unassuming presentation, telling stories while taking the audience through some remarkable feats.
For an act that exists in a world of ever-shortening attentions spans, there’s no flash and pomp to grab our eye. Rather, Scott simply ambles in from the back with a story of childhood and vague loneliness that seems to resonate with much of us.
In his ‘recollection’, he talks of finding solace in his imagination. Scott assumes we’ll pay attention and we oblige, but the harder work comes in keeping that attentions, which he does successfully with a charming mix of tricks and comedy.
In some ways, the carnivàle-esque setting is ideal for his purposes – a quaint showman using only his voice and hands to amaze the crowd (there may also possibly be some small, silent computer printers about the place, but I’ll be darned if I can tell you where).
What set there is on his small stage – half held in light, the rest in shadow – along with Scott’s manner give everything a lovely air of nostalgia. It all helps dispel any discomforts about our seats or the weather and instead draws us in, relaxing the audience for the act ahead – a terrific evening of fun and mystery.
The Famous Spiegeltent – Arts Centre Melbourne Forecourt, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 5 October 2019 – 5.00pm
Season continues to 20 October 2019
Information and Bookings: www.festival.melbourne
Image: Scott Silven – photo by Jeff Smith
Review: David Collins