It seems that Siegfried Tieber just can't wait to start his late-night magic show. He greets us outside the door of his venue, pack of cards in hand; as the audience clusters round, he runs through a befuddling game of find-the-lady, making a lone red card disappear and resurface apparently at will. And that sets the tone for the next hour of magic – an uncomplicated trick, a loveably enthusiastic performer, and spine-tingling impossibilities which occur before our eyes.
There's a strong focus on card magic in Tieber's routine, with a single deck seemingly all he needs to deliver a creative series of illusions. Some of the tricks are intricate, and cleverly worked; I particularly enjoyed one involving a lottery ticket, which used cards to predict the numbers drawn. Others are straightforward brain-scramblers, including one which sees a card change suit while it's face-up and visible to the whole audience in Tieber's hand. There's no doubting the physical skill of all this, and there's a refreshing lack of cheap distraction techniques or self-working mentalism.
What makes the show, however, is Tieber himself. He's an instantly likeable figure – with wide eyes, an adorable exaggerated accent, and mop of curly hair – and the obvious love he brings to his craft transcends the forced enthusiasm you might find elsewhere. He's kind and thoughtful with his audience, too; I wish I was as good as he is at remembering strangers' names, and he finds lots of little tasks for people around him, involving the whole room in the magic yet keeping the pace cracking briskly along.
This is, however, a solidly traditional show. Even the sparse set has the vague air of a timeless gentlemen's club, and the focus is very much on Tieber's tricks and personality rather than any specific theme. Fringe magic shows do now need a distinctive twist to stand out from the crowd, and it's here that Magiko perhaps falls down. There's an interesting thought running through it – asking whether you'd rather understand the Tieber's secrets or simply enjoy being fooled – and a little more focus on that narrative thread might help elevate this show from the surrounding crowd.
At the end of the show, Tieber returns to a story he told earlier, about a magic show which changed his life because its secrets remained so thoroughly obscure. I can't quite go that far with Magiko, but there were certainly plentiful occasions when I found myself genuinely surprised. And it's not often I can say that about magic at the Fringe – so all in all, I heartily recommend this relaxed and warming hour of high-quality illusion.