Fringe Bar, 26-32 Allen St, Te Aro, Wellington

27/02/2014 - 01/03/2014

NZ Fringe Festival 2014

Production Details


As part of the 2014 New Zealand Fringe Festival, magician Mike Kmiec enters the world of charlatans, swindlers, cheats, and con artists to explore the truth behind the First Century Roman saying Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur (‘The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived’).

His new show, A Field Guide to Charlatans, appears from 27 February to 1 March 2014 at Wellington’s Fringe Bar.

“Though nobody likes being lied to,” says Kmiec. “I think we’re hardwired to accept and perhaps enjoy deception. Even subterfuge that lacks subtlety has some level of entertainment value.” 

Written, directed, and performed by Kmiec, A Field Guide to Charlatans takes the audience through the various types of deceivers, from mountebank to magician; from advertiser to politician. A work that’s part history lesson and part cautionary tale, it weaves a story of ill-gotten gain that’s fun for the whole family (provided the family are carnies). 

“The consummate grifter uses the same techniques used by magicians for centuries psychology, attention direction, sleightofhand in order to profit rather than merely entertain. The person asking you to pick a card could just as easily be picking your pocket,” Kmiec says. “This is an opportunity for people to understand a bit more about how these things work together. You might not learn to beat the hustle, but at least you might learn why you were hustled.” 

Based in Wellington, Kmiec is an obsessive hobbyist and researcher in the world of magic. In 2013, he produced and performed The Secrets of Magicians in the New Zealand Fringe Festival. He is a magician member of the Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood, California and the Secretary of the Wellington Magic Club.

A Field Guide to Charlatans premières at the Fringe Bar in Wellington during the 2014 New Zealand Fringe Festival.
It opens 27 February and runs through 1 March 2014, at 10pm.
Entry is free, but donations are welcome.

Theatre , Magic/Illusion ,

Interesting secrets revealed

Review by Deborah Eve Rea 28th Feb 2014

Mike Kmiec begins A Field Guide to Charlatans by saying, “I’m going to be honest – I’m going to lie to you.” 

Through his ‘field guide’Kmiec demonstrates, using magic, how we are influenced and suggestible. He explores cold readings, card tricks, loaded dice, mind reading and predictions. At one point he actually causes an audience volunteer to slap their own face in shock. 

Kmiec has a lot of fun with his audience, preferring to remove separation by raising the house lights and to have a conversation within the ‘show’. He is a humble showman, stitching each section of the show together with wry banter. 

My only criticism would be that Kmiec needs to share the love. He uses the same audience members for a couple of demonstrations; the rest of us want to play too! Of course, we start to distrust the setup when we sniff a pattern emerging too. 

A Field Guide to Charlatans is part magic-show, part history lesson and pulls back the curtain of many interesting secrets. 


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