REVIEW: The Card Shark

On Friday evening my long-suffering boyfriend and I went on a very rare date night - we had found out about an unusual show taking place in the Courthouse Hotel.

The Courthouse Hotel has a long history; John Lennon and Mick Jagger were both held here, and the original cells now form the lobby bar! There were also some fabulous seashell seats that I wanted to take home with me.

The exterior of the Courthouse Hotel: Image Source -

The show itself was held in a small cinema style room (I believe they have intimate movie nights there regularly, showing classic films such as 'Breakfast At Tiffanys') with deep, comfortable seats and dim lighting. The stage was set with a couple of chairs, a table and a screen at the back.

We began by watching a short film clip showing nineteen-twenties style gangsters searching for a Card Mechanic (a very advanced card shark) before the magician himself, Steve Truglia, entered. As he sat at the table, the overhead camera relayed through to the screen giving the entire audience an aerial view of his sleight of hand trickery as he went through a series of clever card tricks.

The performance was slick and assured, and throughout the evening Truglia chatted to the audience in a conversational tone. He was obviously very passionate about his art and spoke of his research into card trickery and gambling cons; starting with early card sharks we moved from medieval sorcerers to Cowboys, Prohibition Gangsters, Vegas mobsters, Magicians and modern-day gamblers, Through demonstrations of card tricks and gambling cheats, video clips and projected images we were treated to the combined history of card magicians and card sharks with some very interesting stories thrown in - I especially enjoyed the story of the gambler who invented a machine to hide cards up his sleeve! There were also opportunities for audience participation, demonstrations of NLP and Body Language reading (something that interests my boyfriend and I a lot!) and, of course, magic tricks, all in the context of gamblers and con artists throughout the years.

Waiting for the show to begin

The audience were a tricky bunch; I'm not sure what a lot of them were expecting but I felt they were thrown by the tone of the evening, expecting maybe more a of a 'sit down and watch' show rather than the 'friends round a dinner table' conversational style of performance, and I feel a little like Truglia struggled to keep them all focused throughout the show (the group behind us were chatting away constantly, very annoying!), however I personally enjoyed this less formal presentation of magic and sleight of hand and was extremely interested by many of the links, parallels and stories we were told between the world of the close up magician and the world of the card shark. It felt a little like a cross between an unusual university lecture by a slightly nutty professor and a poker night at an eccentric friend's house!

I do love magic; working with the incredible Simon Drake has opened my eyes to a lot of the magic world but I am constantly amazed by the dedication and commitment of close-up magicians. My boyfriend and I talked about the show all the way home, each of us having a different favourite part, but both of us finding interesting topics for conversation. Highly recommended for a very different evening experience.


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