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Paulanne Simmons

Simon Lovell Has the Magic Touch

Poster for "Simon Lovell's Strange and Unusual Hobbies"

"Simon Lovell's Strange & Unusual Hobbies"
Soho Playhouse
15 Vandam St. between 6th Ave. and Varick
(212) 691-1555 or www.sohoplayhouse.com
Call for schedule and prices
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Aug. 12, 2006

Part card shark, part practical joker, part con-man, Simon Lovell has an impish smile and an evil glint in his eye. His show, "Simon Loveell's Strange & Unusual Hobbies," combines a steady flow of ribald banter, card tricks, audience interaction and feats of daring. Much of it is autobiographical.

A native of Manchester, England, Lovell's interest in confidence games and magic started early, thanks to his grandfather, a professional poker and dice hustler who gave young Simon his first two decks of cards (presumably at least one of them was stacked).

His early practical jokes included stealing supermarket conveyer belt dividers and returning them with a new message inscribed on their side. A few of Lovell's early practical jokes got him in trouble with the law, like the time he rigged a mock hold-up in a bank.

Lovell produces aces (a pair is known as American Airlines) at will. With remarkable ease, he finds cards signed by members of the audience. One suspects if the government enlisted his help, Osama Bin Laden wouldn't stand a chance.

At one point the card in question turns out to be in Lovell's mouth. This spectacular feat is only topped when Lovell plays his own version of The Shell Game, with a three inch spike that could easily go through his hand.

Several times during the show, Lovell claims he is going to show the audience how his feats of wonder are accomplished. Each time he leaves everyone even more amazed.

For all those willing to suspend disbelief and not averse to being teased and tantalized, "Simon Lovell's Strange & Unusual Hobbies" is an over-the-top, on-the-edge adventure not to be missed.


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