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Oxford Review: Young and Strange

4 starsAt the Oxford Fringe
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

When I last saw Young and Strange, a year ago at the Oxford Fringe, I was impressed by the way they fully integrate the comedy into their magic show. With Young and Strange, the comedy isn’t slotted in as an afterthought, or as something to say between illusions; it forms the foundation of the show.

The story of Magic, Illusion And A Hate For Each Other begins with a film that sees the pair, down on their luck, reluctantly getting back together for a comeback gig – the enthusiastic Strange dragging an unwilling Young into collaboration once more. This dynamic works well, and the competition between them is entertaining and accessible, but there is still room to go further and firm up the roles into more solid characters.

A mix of classic illusions – presented with a twist – and some well-placed gags keeps the show moving along. There is perhaps too much use of a single gambit, where the trick goes wrong but doesn’t really go wrong, but you have to give them credit for pushing that gag as far as it will go.

There is the odd drop in pace, when a high-energy piece of magic with background music is followed with some of the character comedy sections. If the pair could apply the same stagecraft to the comedy as they do to their illusions – for example, making sure they open out to the audience when talking to each other, so half the room isn’t just seeing the back of someone’s head – this would go a long way towards making the show into a more cohesive whole.

With some fuller character development and a greater concentration on the narrative of the show, I am certain the pair could elevate their shows into something genuinely excellent. Young and Strange are true entertainers, weaving comedy and magic with equal gusto into an enjoyable show. Their twist on a classic magic show is full of laughs, and this double act is clearly not short of ideas.

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