Dublin Fringe Festival: Of Rogues and Knaves

Of Rogues and Knaves by Rua as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2013

Of Rogues and Knaves by Rua as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2013

The first, and arguably most relevant, takeaway from Of Rogues and Knaves is this: Paul Gleeson is an incredible magician. The Dubliner’s one man show runs the entire gamut of illusion and trickery, from baffling sleight of hand card stunts to cracking the PIN codes of unwitting audience members  to making their credit cards disappear.

Over the one-hour show, Gleeson establishes himself as a master in the dying, though fascinating craft of live deception, or as children call it magic, so it’s a shame the production values of Of Rogues and Knaves do not rival his prowess with a deck of cards. A nervous performer, Gleeson is something of a magic nerd, self-trained and inspired by the hustlers and con-men who made a living out of card tricks. He provides anecdotes from his own education in magic’s dark side, tidbits from the history of illusion, and explainers on pickpocketing, and yet, this production only comes alive when Gleeson is doing his deceptive worst to someone in the audience.  (He was not exactly helped by the venue, which featured a whirring fan throughout and a number of other audio interferences)

We’re a century away from the days where mentalists and illusionists could pack vaudeville halls to the rafters. Still even in our hypermediated age, magic should maintain some its inherent theatricality. What this production makes up for in intimacy, it lacks in the sheer wonder that makes magic so, well, magical.

Star rating: ★★★

  • Review
  • Theatre

Dublin Fringe Festival: Of Rogues and Knaves by Rua (Paul Gleeson)

8-21 September, 2013

Produced by Rua (Paul Gleeson)
In Whiskey Room at 37 Dawson Street