Reviews - Fringe 2009

An Evening with Nicholas Wallace (Practitioner of the Art of Astonishment)

By Tom Mackan
Published July 20, 2009

By Nick Wallace and Tony Wallace
Featuring Nick Wallace

Riffling a deck of cards up and down, fanning their faces with precision, showing off his expert skills with the deck, Nicholas Wallace informs us that he is not welcome in casinos. We acknowledge this with a gust of laughter.

Because I look 14, he says, with a disarming and mischievous smile. We love it.

I noted earlier that we are seeing at the Fringe this year a bit of theatre sans frontieres, and now we can add (I'm showing off my classy French here), theatre hors de boite - yes, outside the box, if you will.

Master Nicholas (he does look 14!) gives us as much theatre in his hour of time as do the two dozen or so other productions in the Festival. He is a disarming and amiable practitioner of his craft, and draws us to his amazing performance with beguiling, smooth charm.

Astonishment, we learn, is that condition in the mind that is surprised suddenly with something unknown and totally unfamiliar. It is best experienced by infants.

As the mind is more and more exposed to explanations and answers, astonishment becomes more and more fleeting. Sadly, this faculty of seeing the world is at best denied, at worst lost.

Nicholas Wallace is a master of the art of astonishment and in his all too brief time on the Pepperjack stage, he stimulates our sense of wonder with ingenuity and affable facility. Let us not spoil it here by giving away the programme.

Let me just tell you that I wanted no explanation, no reasons, no discovery of trickery to spoil my restored and delighted ability to be astonished. I urge readers to catch the next show. Check the Fringe programme.

Tom Mackan is Publisher and editor of NEWZY BITZ, an online Community Theatre newsletter in the GHA, with over 200 subscribers. He is a Member of the Board, Theatre Burlington; an actor and director in GHA Community Theatre for fifty years; winner of over 25 awards and citations in the Western Ontario region and beyond; recipient of 2007 City of Hamilton Arts Award (Theatre); a Graduate of Canadian Theatre School (Sterndale Bennett) Toronto, 1955; and a retired teacher of English and Drama in public and private schools in the GHA and abroad.

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