N&N Festival, The Chore of Enchantment review: what appears to be a semi-autobiographical work is actually a funny fiction

The Chore of Enchantment at the Norwich Puppet Theatre as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival 201

The Chore of Enchantment at the Norwich Puppet Theatre as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2019. Photo: Rosie Powell - Credit: Rosie Powell

Why am I doing this? That's the question at the back of this extremely accomplished magic show performed by Vincent Gambini at Norwich Puppet Theatre as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

The performance artist admits to spending long periods of time in front of the mirror 'like a ballet dancer' whilst training. So it's hardly surprising that this is a game of smoke and mirrors.

What appears to be a semi-autobiographical work, in which a magician discusses his creative blocks and fears, is actually a funny fiction.

For example, Vincent Gambini is a character in a 1990s film directed by Jonathan Lynn. The name may also belong to various other individuals. But it is not the person we are looking at on stage.

The man on stage is called Augusto Corrieri (probably). He devised the character of Vincent Gambini during a residency at Edinburgh's Rhubaba Gallery.

Low level subterfuge. But an indication that these are shifting sands, in which you are never sure exactly who, or what you are looking at.

Or, where you should be looking. Corrieri performs a long, funny sequence about misdirection, a classic element of sleight of hand. He apparently misdirects our focus, so that he can read his phone whilst performing a rope trick.

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But he 'fails' to dupe us to comic effect. Only proving how in control of our perception he really is. Try as we might, we cannot catch him out.

At the beginning, Corrieri's character worries about the state of the world, and does some soul searching about why is he doing what he does.

On the evidence of this performance, it's because he is fascinated by the art of deception and in love with artifice.

You could say, he likes lying.

No wonder Vincent Gambini is so pre-occupied by the political world stage. He must be tormented by the smallness of his ambition.

Just how much could he achieve with his skills, if let loose on the corridors of power?

Hmm, scary thought.