by Charles Anderson
Bodane Hatten is his name. Remember it – he tells you twice. And within minutes the audience is saying it alongside Hollywood luminaries like Leo di Caprio and Denzel Washington.
Such is his effortless way of ingratiating himself with a crowd. A little hapless, a little biting – but always, seemingly, on the mark with his blend of sleight of hand magic and comedy. It’s sleightly funny, don’t you know.
Based in Tasmania, it is Hatten’s first time performing in New Zealand and he chose the Nelson Fringe Festival to test out some of this new material. The audience was in for a treat.
Over the course of an hour he leads them through his repertoire that was blended together with his effortless patter and comebacks – apparently one for every situation.
We see an audience member’s card miraculously appear inside Hatten’s pocket – frozen in a block of ice. We see him guess the identity of a celebrity that a volunteer is sitting on.
We see him get a 50c piece into an entirely solid glass bottle.
“Get it out,” someone yells.
Cue exasperation from Hatten who has, by his own fair judgement, performed something of a miracle. But he delivers. Moments later a coin that was, only milliseconds before, jangling around in a Coke bottle, popped out into the hand of the volunteer. He speaks for the whole audience when all he can muster is a “Wo!”
We also see some moments that will inevitably appear when testing new material. Like when his staple gun fails. Or his magic mini plunger doesn’t quite plunge.
These remind you of the tight rope of success and failure that magicians walk. It was refreshing to be reminded that this is an incredibly difficult craft – one honed over years of practise.
But Hatten recovers from these minor failures and plants a seed in the audience’s mind – did he fail the first time just to increase the anticipation for him to succeed the second time round? It’s a clever mechanism for getting out of a potentially sticky situation and one that could be developed more – even into his performance persona.
As Hatten’s show develops I would like to see something that links the tricks together – something that binds them all into a cohesive show. And I would like to see the sometimes lazy sexual innuendo jokes done away with because they just aren’t needed.
Hatten is a clever, funny and charming performer who quickly has the audience on his side – even if he occasionally takes small, but affectionate bites out of them. He is one to watch and Nelson was privileged by his presence. Let’s hope he returns!