Reviewer: Jay Nuttall
An oxymoron it may sound but Card Ninja does pretty much what it says. Kiwi Javier Jarquin, dressed in black, may have always wanted to be a ninja and is an expert at card scaling – the art of throwing playing cards. His show is an hour of wishing you could also do what he makes look easy.
With the feel of a street performance, Jarquin has the ability to win over his audience in an instant. Self-deprecation is often the short cut and Jarquin has plenty up his sleeve when it comes to the reasons why he has become so good a card thrower – absent girlfriends quite possibly the highest on the list. His show is one of all-inclusion. He is a performer that wants to see his audience, work with them, use them, celebrate them and, for the most part, join him onstage in his ninja fantasy.
With packs of playing cards aplenty onstage Jarquin soon begins to litter the stage with dozens of discarded throws as he demonstrates the various disciplines of the art – which, in turn structures his show. Accuracy, power, distance and speed are a few of the challenges he sets himself and with the willing(ish) help from volunteers from the audience Jarquin sets about throwing cards to the back of the auditorium, changing course in mid-air, bursting balloons, hitting targets and embedding themselves in watermelons.
For the main his stunts succeed but it unlikely that Jarquin, in all probability, ever has a ‘clean’ show. What makes him stand out as a performer is his ability to improvise and bounce off his audience, especially when a stunt fails a couple of times before success – or in the case of the watermelon, more than a few times! It hardly matters as Jarquin has such banter that a ‘clean’ show may equal a quick show and in his presence, this would be a mighty shame. Quick-witted as sharp as his playing card throwing stars it feels like he is genuinely having fun on stage trying to impress us and himself.
Jarquin is like a little boy who has had a few karate lessons but one hell of a party trick. Whilst his onstage persona feels like he hasn’t quite grown up yet, after years of practice his martial arts and incredible technique means that he seems to be playing ninja for a living. The show has a recommended age of 6+ but there were many in the audience without children as his appeal is universal. Silly, funny, and a very entertaining hour. The foyer after-show consisted of children trying to expertly throw a card themselves, and a few adults too!
Reviewed on 15 September 2019 | Image: Contributed