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Pete Firman: Jokes and Tricks

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Every year magicians flock to Edinburgh to try to reinvent the artform, making it sexier, darker, more experimental… well, Pete Firman does none of this. He is a straight-down-the-line traditional – dare I say cruise ship – act. But not rubbish: definitely more Queen Mary 2 than Isle Of Wight Ferry. The tricks are effective and the patter free-flowing and funny, in a knowingly cheeky way. This is a man who has learned a lot from Morecambe and Wise, with warm, endearing banter sure to appeal to all the family.

He teases the audience with a hefty dollop of winning self-deprecation, joking: ‘I’m going to keep doing this till you like it’ during one trick, or boasting of his skills: ‘It’s a gift! But I’ve kept the receipt.’

The tricks are often as old-school as that badinage. How many times have you seen a conjuror apparently cut a rope only to restore it again? You can add a few more to your tally here. There’s a decent disappearing £10 note stunt, some neat card-guessing and a nifty illusion in which he pours the ingredients of a cake into someone’s shoe, only to whip out the finished article.

A couple of sections don’t quite come off as it’s hard to believe the props – the self- refilling wine glass, or the tube through which he exhales fire. And a couple of tricks, we’re deliberately supposed to figure out as he drops unsubtle hints, Tommy Cooper style.

His finale is suitably spectacular – a version of the bullet-catch trick with a slight modification to make it more credible. It’s impressive to witness first-hand, though it might be a familiar trick to many.

And that’s really the main drawback to Firman’s show, it serves up exactly what has been served up in variety shows for 100 years or more, and in exactly the same way. The result is a perfectly decent hour of surefire entertainment, but little to really surprise.

Review date: 22 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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