Unusual and absorbing

By Caitlin McGrane

As the Melbourne Fringe Festival drew to a close on Sunday night, the audience at The Toff in Town was treated to Magic Steven’s final show in a three-performance run over the two-and-a-half-week festival. Steven aimed to teach us how to love everyone, but it seemed to be that the most important lesson was how to love oneself.

Steven’s basic set up on stage meant that his words, delivered in a dead-pan almost uninflected tone, rolled around the whole space, filling every gap. The show covered Steven’s life since the end of the Comedy Festival in April, and is split into three parts: autumn, early winter and late winter.

Try to Love Everyone

I’ve never really been to many spoken word events before, but I found Steven’s gently lilting story to be strangely engaging. Often the theatrics of a performance can distract from the words, but this show made them stand out and become the stars. It was like having a conversation with a guy at a party, in the best possible way, because it was entirely without the contrivances that can make poetry or comedy performances seem unnatural or forced. The structure was even and the pacing excellent, I also enjoyed how each third managed to slip in a reference to Steven’s time in India.

In autumn Steven decided to take in as many couchsurfers as possible, in order to try to spread platonic love to strangers. Early winter follows his lacklustre search for a girlfriend, and we learn that simply waiting for someone to approach you after a show might (remarkably) not be the best option. Late winter was my favourite, when we were asked to question the conventional wisdom that ‘in order for someone to love you, you must first love yourself.’

While it’s a shame there are no more shows left in this run, I would encourage you to seek Magic Steven out the next time he puts on a show; his style is different, but ultimately very rewarding.

Magic Steven: Try to Love Everyone was performed at The Toff in Town as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.