Midway through his Saturday night performance, Scottish magician-comedian Kevin Quantum enrols a small boy to volunteer in an old-fashioned cups-and-balls routine. As he gets going, Quantum’s held up by the child declaring pointedly: "It doesn’t look like it’s in your pocket. It looks like it’s still in your hand". When he’s eventually sent back to his seat, the kid still looks unimpressed—and it’s hard to blame him.
Quantum loves an old-fashioned card trick, with its classic misdirects and vintage slight-of-hand. His enthusiasm might be infectious, or at least nostalgia-inducing, were it executed with more aplomb. Tonight’s show is ‘countdown-style’, with a stopwatch timing each trick. Quantum says he’ll have a single "doggy life" to over-run: he ends up needing several. At times, the all-too-visible palming of a card is clearly intended as bashful charm; others look more suspect.
He is certainly a pleasant host, with some lively patter and cheeky humour, but his showmanship doesn’t quite stretch to a larger room. When he calls out, "Can you see this at the back?" the audience responds with a resounding "no". In the last few minutes he recovers somewhat, conjuring up an impressive reveal for the finale. Sadly it feels too little too late.
Quantum got into magic ten years ago, receiving a crash course while appearing on Channel 4’s Faking It. He tells us he never looked back, even abandoning a PhD in Physics. A decade later Quantum's act still seems to offer more in bluster than in bafflement.