City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Expert at the Card Table

By Lorraine McCann - Posted on 08 August 2008

Expert at the Card Table
Show details
Assembly Rooms
Menier Chocolate Factory
Running time: 
Guy Hollingworth

As I write this, the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics is sprawling across my TV screen, making me reflect on the fact that, as a species, we really do like nothing better than a visual spectacular. And while the entertainment on offer in Guy Hollingworth's one-man show might be on a smaller scale, it nevertheless ticks all the same boxes in terms of causing delight, wonder and admiration in the watchers' eyes.

The Expert at the Card Table is a story about a book of the same name whose author is a matter of great debate among card-handling enthusiasts. Guy Hollingworth, whose award-winning sleight-of-hand techniques have seen him working with the likes of Derren Brown and Jude Law, runs with the idea that the author's identity was that of Milton Franklin Andrews, a potentially psychotic Connecticut man who overcame childhood illness and bullying in order to attain legendary status as a card-handler and conman. And if you think that makes him sound mad, bad and dangerous to know, then you should go along and hear the whole story, because the hustling and the stealing and the drinking and the womanising is just the half of it.

Dressed in Edwardian white ties and tails, Hollingworth cuts an elegant figure. He also surrounds himself with a nicely-judged set of writing desk, card table and a monitor linked to an overhead camera in which the screen is cutely framed in solid wood. His low-key storytelling is, however, in stark contrast with the entirely jaw-dropping nature of his card-handling skills. At various points in the story, mostly in order to illustrate the sort of things Andrews got up to, Hollingworth pulls off stunning feats of silky-fingered legerdemain. He also has a nice line in droll wit and audience participation. The framing device of the narrative is a classy setting for the brilliance of Hollingworth's tricks. So if you like a good yarn told by a world-class entertainer in his field, this is one to head for now.

Times: Aug 3-25 at 15:35 (no show Aug 11 or 18)