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If you’re at the Edinburgh festival in the next few weeks, Ian Saville’s latest is one not to miss, says PETER FROST

FOR more than 35 years, Ian Saville has been working his socialist magic and Marxist ventriloquism at clubs, concerts, fundraisers and political benefits.

Combining corny but annoyingly mysterious “How does he do that?” tricks with ventriloquism involving Karl Marx, Bertholt Brecht and William Morris, his act is always thought-provoking and a topical celebration of socialist ideas.

Now Saville has written a brand new one-man show that he’s taking to the Edinburgh festival this summer.

Revolution in the Magic Square transports us to an allegorical alternative universe where Saville has been elected — with a huge popular majority — as leader of the Magic Square, the organisation for magicians.

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Although he has popular support, some of his fellow magicians in leading positions in the organisation are casting doubt as to Saville’s ability as a leader. Indeed, some members of the ruling council — the shadowy cabinet — have withdrawn their support.

And it has got much worse since the Magic Square members have voted to leave the huge European Magicians organisation.

Some say Saville didn’t give sufficient leadership in the campaign to stay put.

Our hero turns to his talking portrait of Karl Marx for help and, after ignoring the old boy’s first advice to “talk to Antonio Gramsci,” Marx then suggests talking to somebody normal.

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That turns out to be Norm, a disembodied ventriloquist dummy’s head with several different outspoken opinions as well as a whole number of different hats.

Along the way, Saville’s show draws many ironic parallels with war criminals, two-and-a-half million word reports, attempts to rig elections and a dozen more themes, most of which are bang on target.

In a show that says so much about the dirty tricks campaign against you know who, the name Corbyn doesn’t get a mention once. There’s magic for you.

Runs at Theatre Arts Exchange, Gayfield Square, Edinburgh, August 6-21, box office: tickets.edfringe.com

First published in the Morning Star 4 August 2016

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