MAGIC, mystery, whisky and a damn fine meal.
That’s what’s on offer if you decide to treat yourself to a night At The Illusionist’s Table.
Set in a stunning four-storey Georgian townhouse – the home of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society – the whole night has a touch of class that’s sometimes missing from evening events at the Edinburgh Fringe.
When you enter the dining room, with windows blacked out for extra drama, you’ll find that guests are sat next to each other in a way that encourages conversation amongst strangers.
Scott Silven, your entertainment for the evening, thankfully has none of the cheesiness that can sometimes be found with magic acts, and sets about making people feel comfortable in the set up and telling stories of where his long-held love of illusions came from.
Of course, his ‘stories’ are peppered with tricks and it’s not long before guests are asked to write down numbers and have them guessed by Scott. This is done with a calm assuredness and showmanship that makes it difficult not to draw comparisons with TV’s Derren Brown.
When the starter comes, it’s a wonderful surprise. A mouth-watering concoction featuring mussels and lemongrass which makes the night an overall sensory sensation.
After the starter, guests are invited to sample a dram of whisky. Here is where I must be honest – I’m not a whisky connoisseur – but I very much enjoyed the caramel notes of the first dram and also learning about Scotland’s national drink from people in the know.
As the night advances, Scott delivers some more awe-inspiring moments – and the pièce de résistance comes after the delicious main course, a wonderfully rich duck dish full of woodland scents and smells.
It’s after dinner where the entertainment really kicks up a notch and the ‘how did he do that?’ moments happen. A wonderful exchange where Scott sketches an image in your head and a game of almost Chinese-whispers both illicit complete astonishment from the audience. They really are impressive, and discussions on how these ‘tricks’ were done lasted long after the show ended.
One of the things that really struck me about the event was how quickly the audience became comfortable with each other. After a slightly awkward beginning few minutes, everyone soon sank into familiarity and the participation aspect of the show was embraced wholeheartedly by everyone.
From the flickering candlelight to Scott regaling stories of his grandfather’s pocket watch, the whole evening is charmingly old-fashioned. The old-town Edinburgh setting makes you feel you might have wondered onto the pages of a Conan Doyle mystery.
We left happy, mystified, full, and debated how it was done all the way home.
If you like whisky, fine dining, and a perfectly executed illusion, this the Fringe event for you.