Orlando Fringe Review: Keith Brown Exchange
Magician Keith Brown has spent over a dozen years of his young life practicing his prestidigitation skills, and that perseverance has paid off with lauded performances across Canada and Europe. He’s appearing at Orlando’s Fringe for the first time in Keith Brown Exchange, and has brought with him a briefcase full of classic sleight-of-hand and mentalism effects, along with his disarmingly low-key stage persona.
Brown begins with a series of tricks in which audience volunteers appear to exercise free will — whether in selecting neckties, numbers or playing cards — but Brown is always one step ahead. One clever routine has him sealing observers’ cell phones in Manila envelopes, one of which he pulverizes with a hammer; Brown guessed correctly at every juncture, but the Brown venue’s spotty AT&T reception muted the impact. His grand finale is a great rendition of the classic needle-swallowing act, simmered in a nostalgic tale of his first visit to New York and served with a bracing side of rice vinegar.
Brown’s tricks may not be especially innovative, but I loved the unassuming manner with which he executes them; no David Blaine bombast or Criss Angel arrogance here. He makes a strong connection with his audience, learning everyone’s names at the performance I attended, and pays special attention to the youngsters watching (“Don’t try this at home — do it at a party!”). And if (like me) you have a memory holey-er than the Pope, Brown’s mesmerizing “memory palace” demonstration is worth the price of admission.