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Pifftacular : Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

It’s hard not to notice Piff The Magic Dragon when he makes his appearances on the circuit. Dressed in fancy-dress dragon costume, he sulks moodily on to the stage with all the joie de vivre of Jack Dee at a funeral before reluctantly ploughing through his magic tricks.

An hour-long show is a different prospect, however, and Piff – aka John van der Put – needs at least some level of enthusiasm, even muted enthusiasm, if he’s to hold our attention. He’s well aware of that, so while this deadpan performance remains free of much of the confidence and swagger you traditionally expect from a magician, it’s also diluted his unique selling point of abject misery. By the end, he actually seems to be enjoying himself.

What we’re left with is a conjuror running through some familiar tricks, but with little showmanship. However, the magic is skilfully-executed and the pun-filled patter dryly entertaining. And it’s still a man in a sparkly lime-green dragon suit. He deserves a star for that alone.

Cards are guessed, rabbits (toy ones) are produced through close-up sleight of hand and a guillotine passes harmlessly through an unwilling volunteer’s arm, pretty much as expected. A trick in which he correctly guessed a word chosen seemingly at random from a book – a Dragons’ Den autobiography, naturally, impressed, as did the finale which incorporated a witty video denouement.

When it comes to personal flourishes, Piff has Chris The Mind-Reading Fish, which provided the opportunity for some witty, if ultimately self-indulgent banter; while the production of his cute puppy as emotional blackmail was a very nice touch.

Overall, it’s an entertaining magic show, perhaps a little more conventional that the dragon shtick might have you believe. But certainly a bargain at the price of zero pence.

Review date: 31 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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