Neil Henry

The best kind of hangover at the Edinburgh Fringe

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Come the end of the Edinburgh Fringe, there are plenty of bleary eyes and sore heads to be found. Hopefully they are paired with memories of fantastic nights out, remnants of some of the best entertainment you’ll find anywhere in the world.

I’m not going to suggest to you where you should be getting a late night dram, but I will say that my favourite type of acts at the Fringe are the ones that leave me with plenty to think about. Gifts that keep on giving.

To be honest, that’s the thinking that went into my show this year, Neil Henry’s Magical Mindsquirm. You need look no further for proof than the title.

A mindsquirm is that funny little thought that pops into your head when you are in the shower, or when you’re waiting for a bus. It’s the song that appears in your head, and stays with you in those quiet moments, keeping your toes tapping.

My show starts at 4pm, but is designed to give you all the best bits of a night out, without the headache or regret the next day.

My magic show isn’t designed to overload you with rabbits and top hats. A lot of stage magic presents the magician as some sort of latter-day Superman, able to make anything happen with a mere flick of the wrist. While doing the impossible is a blast for me, I wanted to make sure that the audience gets to have fun too.

Every show ends up a little bit different, as part of what makes the show is the audience members who join in with the controlled chaos going on onstage, and I’ve made sure that there is plenty to talk about with friends afterwards.

Mindsquirm, to me, happens in two phases. First you have the time where I’m on stage making objects appear from nowhere, reading minds and generally messing with your head.

Because it’s a live show, the action never stops. There is no pause button, and if you sit there trying to work out ‘how it’s done’, you will probably miss whatever comes next. If what comes next is a ball flying into the audience to pick someone to help me, you’d best be paying attention!

The really fun part of the show for me is the mindsquirm though. It starts as soon as the lights go up and the doors open to let you into the world.

Your brain takes a little moment and tries to figure out what it just saw. When it gets stuck and can’t figure it out, an involuntary little smile escapes on your face.

You talk to the person next to you, and continue to do so all the way out of the theatre. The reason that us high-falooting magicians like to call our magic ‘moments of wonder’ is because a good piece of magic should leave you wondering.

Magic’s an unusual form of entertainment, in that a lot of the time, that wondering won’t lead you to a final answer. I rather hope that instead you’ll enjoy the reminder that there are lots of crazy things in this world, and we haven’t got them all figured out just yet.

If I’ve done my job right with making Neil Henry’s Magical Mindsquirm, then you aren’t just getting an hour of entertainment. You’re getting something to think about for days and weeks to come.

Already, I’m sure you can tell that I’m rather excited about this year’s Fringe. Here is the really cool thing though. A lot of magic works through the power of suggestion – putting ideas in your head so subtly that you don’t even realise that it’s happening.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve mentioned the word mindsquirm quite a few times at this point. If you’re really sharp, you might have picked up on a few other little hints too.

Before you started reading, mindsquirm probably wasn’t even a word to you. Now though, even if you don’t come to my show, it has found a place in your head.

At some point in the future, my mindsquirm will just appear in your head as if from nowhere. If you came to see the show, you’ll have plenty of fun things to associate it with.

If you didn’t, well, you’ll wonder exactly what kind of magic it was that you missed. Either way, the magic’s already here.

Here at the Fringe, there are plenty of ways to have a great time. I just hope that when it comes to hangovers, you end up with all the right kinds.

Neil Henry’s new show, Magical Mindsquirm, will be at the Pleasance Dome from 5 – 31 August. For tickets, go to