Free Money Magic Show

Thu 1st – Sun 25th August 2013


Ben Williams

at 01:50 on 16th Aug 2013



Ian Saville’s opening line to the ‘Free Money Magic Show’ was "this is the only show on the fringe where you learn about the history of financing", and, to be fair, that was exactly what followed. This was less of a show and more of an economics lecture with ventriloquism, card tricks, and the occasional piece of magic thrown in. Quite understandably, it wasn’t entirely successful.

For an hour, we were lectured on how banks function, the role money plays in society, and how stocks operate. The information was certainly useful and, to an extent, interesting, but for 7:30 pm when you were expecting a magic show, it was rather an unwelcome surprise. The surprise is only further enhanced when Saville produces a whiteboard to explain some of the topics more clearly.

The balance of the ‘magic’ content was also severely flawed. Whilst many of the tricks were pleasant enough, if a little unoriginal, the four separate ventriloquism acts (two with the same dummy), soon lost their charm. Others were either predictable (such as producing coins from thin air) or poorly executed so that the solutions were obvious. What is more, Saville often appeared to run off on tangents, including one about the history of his dummy, Charlie, which had no reference to the rest of the show whatsoever.

Additionally, the show’s synopsis promises comedy, and this was perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the evening. In an attempt to make the show current, Saville made references to the ongoing financial crises with jokes about Northern Rock which would have struggled to raise laughs in 2007, when the bank originally fell.

Yet, above all of this, I fear that Saville himself was the underlying problem. As the host, he lacked the sort of stage presence required to fully engage the audience in the rather dull material. The script felt rough and improvised, despite his claim that he had been performing for over 30 years. In fact, after the first twenty minutes, the prospect that we were not even half-way through was not a pleasant one.

For me, it is clear why this is the only show about financing at the Fringe: it just doesn’t work. The ‘Free Money Magic Show’ came across as repetitive, dated and really quite disappointing.


Samuel Graydon

at 04:33 on 16th Aug 2013



Ian Saville, the self-proclaimed “socialist magician”, has brought an odd show to the Fringe this year. His show about money, its history, its use, its abuse and its (misplaced) importance in the world today, seemed strangely, and somewhat haphazardly, put together. I mean this in the sense of it as a show and as a premise.

For example, as Saville stated himself, it was certainly "the only show where you will learn the history of accountancy". Now, this was actually rather interesting, and the metaphors he employed were genuinely helpful in understanding the basics of economics. I can, in fact, say I left enlightened after this show, in respect to money matters. The problem with this is that it is not what you really hope for, going to see a magic show at half past seven in the evening.

What you expect is magic, and you do not get a lot of this. It is disappointing that Saville demonstrates that he can do magic tricks and yet chooses to leave these consisting of a remarkably small percentage of a “magic show”. Basically, only one card-trick is performed throughout the entire show.

The other pieces that made up Saville’s performance were ventriloquism, and what seemed to be a form of lecture. As for the ventriloquism, while there were points where it was both good and funny, it seemed a little too often repeated (four times in the show). More so, each of these four times had Saville using a conspicuously similar version of his own voice. Karl Marx (once humorously described as his “glamorous assistant”), the voice of money, and his financial adviser, Eric, all seem to have a very similar voice to Saville himself, though muffled of course.

As for the educational aspect of the show, there is certainly nothing wrong with it (and, as I have said, it is very interesting at points), it just seems a little odd to attend a slightly more overtly opinionated lecture series, rather than going to see a magician. Overall, it is unfortunately quite a jumbled and confused show.


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