Hotter Than Potter
by Keith Brown
50 min / Magic, Comedy / PG
Despite its title, Hotter Than Potter has almost nothing to do with the series of books to which its title makes reference. True, it is a magic show, and Harry Potter uses magic, but Harry is not a magician, he’s a wizard. Perhaps the title references only the theme music, which, as one young and enthusiastic audience member pointed out to me, is a remix of Hedwig’s Theme from the original film. After that, nothing. No wizard hats, no cloaks, no Buckbeak the hippogriff. In this opening paragraph, I’ve referenced Harry Potter far more often than Keith Brown does in the entirety of his act.
This is a fault less with the performance and more with its marketing. Audiences expecting a magic show that makes reference to a beloved cultural phenomenon may be disappointed. Rather, Hotter Than Potter is a good stage magician act coupled with inconsistent comedy and other such antics. This is a show that will please families, but will likely be unsatisfying to those who were hoping for more complex magic (or Harry Potter references).
Then again, part of Brown’s act involves alcohol and young people in combination. A trick requires him to pour out the contents of a beer into several glasses, which he then hands out to his audience, some of whom may be underage. This was a moment that made the audience uncomfortable.
Later, Brown walked a young girl off stage and into a bathroom, alone but with a projected video feed connected to his phone. Why he does this is unclear, but the audience’s nervous laughter at the strangeness of the scene likely wasn’t the goal. Another moment of discomfort.
The highlight of Brown’s act is his tricks. His work is of good quality, and while many of his tricks are simple, they are performed very well. At one point, one of Brown’s tricks went wrong, which seemed to throw him off a bit, but he didn’t lose the audience.
Where the show seems to falter most is in between the tricks, and sometimes these moments go on for far too long. Brown’s comedy is family-friendly, but many of the jokes fall short of funny, and during an extended section that explains the probability involved in card shuffling, it becomes clear that the balance of the show is slightly off. While much of a magician’s art is in the setup of a trick, these intros and interstitials often distract rather than enhance.
Brown is a skilled magician, and those skills are on display here, but they’re hidden behind a lot of extra stuff that wasn’t necessary. The comedy, the marketing, even the big projector screen behind him all serve to distract from what would seem to be the point of the show. The magic is good enough on its own.
Hotter Than Potter by Keith Brown is playing at La Nouvelle Scène (333 King Edward Ave) until Sunday June 18, 2017. Tickets cost $12 online and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the show schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.