Review: Ben Hart: Jadoo

Enchanting and eerie show that invites audiences to step beyond the veil

cabaret review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Ben Hart
Photo by Matt Crockett
Published 06 Aug 2023

Magic thrives on storytelling. Consider the difference between a sleight of hand card trick performed skilfully but without fanfare, and one which has an hour-long backstory and threads that weave in and out of a narrative that pulls you out of reality and into Ben Hart’s enticing world. In Jadoo, Hart’s literary arc revolves around a recent trip to India undertaken to discover nature, the universe and what real magic actually is.

The lines between reality and magic are more blurred than we think, Hart explains, demonstrating with an unassuming, gentle kind of trickery, unnoticeable at times until he points it out. There’s a sense of calm throughout, as though Hart has discovered exactly what he was looking for on his pilgrimage and is waiting for the correct moment to unleash the answers to all the universe’s questions. Taking inspiration from Indian street magicians, jadoowallahs, Hart whirls through sleight of hand, conjuring and illusion, before exploring fakirs’ beliefs that the concept of life and death is all in the mind and that, subsequently, pain is too.

With Jadoo, Hart is doing something quite beautiful: inviting audiences to step beyond the veil, to question whether we are the reflection or the reflectee, whether our experiences aren’t just a mass hallucination. Taking the dark of life with the light, Hart has created a show that is both enchanting and eerie, exploring the concept of what is trick and what is truth.