Fringe review: Maho Magic Bar

A night of cocktails and the suspension of reality with a line-up of Japanese magicians should leave revellers enchanted, not counting the minutes until the hour is up. ★★

Feb 24, 2020, updated Feb 24, 2020
Maho Magic Bar. Photo: Nathaniel Mason

Maho Magic Bar. Photo: Nathaniel Mason

Here in Adelaide, the magic scene rears its head when Fringe rolls in, but in Japan, the culture is alive year-round, with magic bars dotted throughout the country. Customers are treated to visual trickery and delightful illusions with their sake and cocktails.

So the scene was set for Maho Magic Bar, which sees an assortment of Japanese magicians set up in the Garden of Unearthly Delights’ most Instagramable location – a building illuminated with neon cards and Japanese characters.

Inside, it’s just as beautiful. A cascade of lanterns and cherry blossoms make it a place you’d be happy to enjoy a quiet drink, even without the promise of magic.

Photo: Kate Prendergast

The night progresses into a series of speed dates with the magicians. After a few minutes, they’re told to move on with the slightly irritating sound of a maraca in the background. It all feels a little rushed and the expected crescendo never comes.

The tricks are amusing, a couple are even impressive, but by the end, the smiles and applause are out of politeness.

But that was just my bar experience – another, seemingly more inebriated bunch, are having a great time across the room. Maybe we just didn’t get the same tricks. The performance didn’t seem to run smoothly and our bar was left unattended a few times when all other patrons were watching the card tricks; bizarrely, routine was even left unfinished.

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Besides the drinks menu, which you’re required to order from, there’s also a magic menu. Pay a little more and the magicians will perform a special routine.

The speed-dating format was fun, but a second date? It’s a no from me.

Maho Magic Bar is at the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 15.

See more Fringe and Festival stories and reviews here.

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