Originally published on A Younger Theatre
Awarded 2 stars
Magicians have a hard time impressing the crowd nowadays. Everyone expects more risky, more daring and altogether more show-stopping tricks. Modern fantasy books and CGI-animated films show all the impossible things that an audience now expects to see live with their own eyes. Pete Firman keeps his current show focussed on more classical magic, mixed in with his own brand of comedy patter in a light but not entirely family friendly show (as the 6 year old in the front row finds out).
The tricks Pete shows off are very traditional. He starts by switching bodies with his lovely assistant via the ‘magical cabinet’ – in this case they keep the production costs low with a pop-up tent. It’s those kind of down to earth touches that are the best thing about Pete’s set. The tricks themselves are a mixed bag and even the ones that work feel old and dated. Cutting rope in half and joining it back together; close up card tricks; sawing a woman in half, none would be out of place at a kid’s birthday party complete with amateur magician. (Well, maybe not sawing a woman in half; that could end badly for the child volunteer.) The final trick is the big finale – Pete takes a ring from an audience member, makes it disappear and discovers it inside a walnut inside an egg inside a lemon. But even this feels tired; Pete dresses it up with some comedy patter but the most impressive thing in the act needs to be the tricks themselves.
The jokes at least are light-hearted and entertaining and Pete has a good rapport with the audience. When inviting participants onto the stage to act as glamorous assistants, Pete can make them feel at ease and keep them involved in the act. All of this is of course a distraction, a smoke screen to cover the sleight of hand that swaps out the cut ropes or switches the envelope with money in for one without. Street magicians in London also perform these tricks on a regular basis and that is exactly the problem. An audience now expects more. Pete doesn’t deliver it in this show.
Super Duper plays at the Pleasance Courtyard (venue 33) until August 30 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.