At the Published Arthouse 11 Cannon Street Adelaide
27, 28 February and 6,7 March at 8pm
Who doesn't enjoy a well presented magic show?
It is one of the most ancient forms of entertainment we have. From Harry Houdini through to David Copperfield a great magician is always a good show-person, even without glitz or theatrical elements like flash pots or orchestras going off at the end of every trick; I don't mean they have to shout a lot and look flashy either.
For my tastes, a great magician needs to exhibit traits of fearlessness, boldness without setting themselves up as being flawless at what they do. I love the process of watching something confounding being set up and then seeing the pay off.
Television magicians have camera angles, sound technicians, lighting to enhance everything they do, this guy Krendl has none of that yet he delivers a flawless, emotionally satisfying show.
Maybe he calls the show Arrested, Under-developed and under-medicated in order to prepare the audience for a level handed delivery rather than an explosive one, I don't recall him mentioning why it is titled that way. The easiest thing to say is: the whole show was impressive. The difficult thing is to communicate why a bare bones act like this makes such a great and lasting impression.
In Australia over the past decade we have seen Cosentino the locally born magician win a talent contest and go on to international and national tours creating some impressive television specials along the way. I suspect the essential difference between Krendl and Cosentino is resources and budget. If Krendl had producers with big money behind him he could be just as big and showy as Cosentino is because he has the obvious skills.
Krendl presents wearing a basic black suit with a fedora reminiscent of Frank Sinatra and the swinging fifties. Wearing a head mic he is mobile among the audience in the room with his simple set on a raised platform. The room is cavernous, air conditioned, there's minimal but adequate lighting. From the moment you enter the auditorium at one corner of the stage hangs a locked box containing a cylinder with a sheet of paper in it. Although our host brings this locked and hanging box to our attention at the start of the show we don't return to it until much later for a magician's pay-off that truly impresses.
Cosentino and Krendl share similar elements of spirit in their approach; no way are they identical or even particularly similar as entertainers, but they do exhibit humility as a natural part of their personality. Krendl mentions he has worked the cruise ships in his introduction. The mention of cruise ships, cruises and the associated relaxed feelings that go along with such activity seeps through the room. This comment lets everyone off the hook as far as needing certain bells and whistles as well.
If we were to encounter him on the street I doubt this act would play nearly so well as in this nice big airy and dimly lit venue, his bare bones act is quietly triumphant. We could easily have been on a cruise ship. The neutrality of his language, even though he sounds, looks and is American, has an inoffensive quality, perfect for being on a ship a long way from shore.
His physicality is attractive; dresses to evoke a Frank Sinatra mid-fifties lanky style. Think Guys and Dolls Sinatra, before Old Blue Eyes matured into Pulp Detective Sinatra without the Lanky Yank brashness which works well; Krendl draws his audience in with simple qualities of isolated humility, he doesn't so much seek to impress as create the impression that everything he is doing is natural to him.
That's indication of a gifted rapport with the audience, talking with them the whole time but never getting into tacky territory or setting the audience up to get laughs. That approach wouldn't fit with Krendl's personable style. A great deal of interaction with the audience created an impression that the show wasn't running to any kind of schedule although it was.
There was an interval and a second act.
During Fringe some performers spend the best part of their show plugging what merchandise they are selling after the show; you can end up feeling like you bought a ticket to an infomercial when people over do it. Krendl has a DVD which he mentioned at the end of act one, again at the very end. Nice. He, like most other performers was happy to come take photographs with the audience after the show.
The Published Arthouse is an accessible venue which is always fantastic. The stage platform is not accessible, a couple of the acts would be too challenging to do with a person in a wheelchair; but I have no doubt Krendl would find a way to involve his whole audience whomever they were.
The Published Arthouse's atmosphere is welcoming, reminded me of the old Lion Theatre Foyer in Fringes gone by, it has a range of other shows programmed for the Fringe. As for Krendl, he is waiting for you to join him and I can't think of any reason why you shouldn't.