Review: Matt Penny, Find the Lady ·
Subiaco Arts Centre, 6 June ·
Review by Jenny Scott ·
Find the Lady is a one-man show that weaves stage magic into the bittersweet monologues of a grifter who is propelled to fame, fortune, and ultimately, betrayal. Multi-talented local magician and theatre-maker Matt Penny stars as a small time con artist who stumbles into a career as a world class magician.
Opening with an explanation of the “three-card monte” scam (aka “find the lady”), and revealing his trick deck of cards, Penny’s hustler character first warms up the crowd with some classic playing card stunts. We then follow the swindler to a strange encounter that greatly enhances the scope of his illusionist skills. As his abilities advance, he becomes a prize-winning practitioner of magic – and the mark for someone else’s long con.
Fast talking and funny, Penny is an amiable storyteller who shares his tale as if over a pint at the pub. His casual banter is paired with nimble-fingered piano playing, nifty card tricks and simply eerie mind reading (a warning for the anxious – there is some audience participation involved!)
The winner of the 2018 Fringe World “Blaz Award”, presented to the best writing for performance by a WA writer, Find the Lady is charming and clever. With the magic tricks integrated into a narrative that transitions from cheeky to melancholy, it’s much more engaging than a traditional stage magic show. The combination of storytelling and apparent telepathy also makes this magic more unbelievable, as attested by the audible swearing of disbelief heard from an audience member on opening night.
This production is worth braving the winter weather to catch, and marks the start of what looks to be a strong Subiaco Theatre Festival season. Don’t let the rain tempt you to stay indoors this week – you’ll leave Find the Lady with a smile on your face and one question:
“How did he do that?”
Pictured top: An amiable story teller: Matt Penny in ‘Find the Lady’.