The Collection of Professor Novak

Aug 23 2019 | By More

★★★☆☆    Old-fashioned

PBH’s Free Fringe at the Outhouse Bar (Venue 99): Sat 3 – Sun 25 Aug 2019
Review by Hugh Simpson

The Collection of Professor Novak, an understated combination of storytelling and trickery upstairs at the Outhouse, charms almost despite itself.

The Professor, a top-hatted Victorian scientist, shares with us a selection of stories of ‘the unexplained and unexplainable’, dotted with tricks and illusions.

Professor Novak.

Novak is an engaging enough presence, striking an appropriate balance between curmudgeonly and inviting. The stories themselves are fairly involving. While they may not be the outright tales of horror you might expect, there is a certain ick-factor to the subject matter – stories of Jack The Ripper or of young girls being raped or murdered – that would definitely put some off.

The stories are not particularly well differentiated, and some of the telling is on the hesitant side. What saves this, however, is the use of magic – there are a couple of tricks that confound those called up from the audience to participate in them.

consistency and thought

The illusions are resolutely old-fashioned, low-tech and making use seemingly of the cheapest of props, but are none the worse for that; the best, indeed, is an almost throwaway one involving a water bowl that a large proportion of the audience do not even notice is happening at first.

There is enough consistency in the characterisation, and enough thought in the presentation. Novak is able to stay one step ahead – sometimes, for example, not giving you the ending you expect, or not providing an illusion when it seems to be coming.

There is something oddly likeable about the whole thing, and for a Free Fringe show with all the problems with unsatisfactory setting that can entail – this certainly satisfies.

Running time: 50 minutes (no interval)
PBH’s Free Fringe at the Outhouse Bar, 12a Broughton St Lane EH11PL (Venue 99)
Saturday 3– Sunday 25August 2019
Daily (not Mons) at 8.30 pm.
Tickets and details:

NB: Venue is over 18 only after 9pm.
Facebook: @Victorianseance


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