Piff is probably the only magic dragon with a Chihuahua assistant in the Fringe festival. I caught his show last year and his star has subsequently grown. Last year I queued on a grimy flight of stairs between apartments in order to get my dose of dragon – this year I waited in line to get access to one of the premium venues; the Pleasance Dome just off Bistro Square. The show was a sell-out.
Above all Piff (and Amy Sunshine) are terribly entertaining. Mr Piffles is incredibly cute.
Piff does slight of hand magic with cards and small items. I’m no magic expert, but I think Piff’s skill is underrated here. Whereas it’s probably true that some of the audience are there just to see what happens with Piffles, I was truly impressed by some of the dexterity work. It’s easy to imagine Piff the Magic Dragon doing street magic – as ridiculous as that must have looked.
The show isn’t about the careful slight of hand magic though. The show is about engaging the audience with Mr Piffles. In fact, comparing last year to this, the cute Chihuahua gets more attention and is more adventurous. To achieve this, Piff wraps the magic in a story and that’s a mechanic that works to help foreshadow scenes and tricks for the audience and reassure them there is some structure to the show.
Why is the reassurance of structure important? Jurassic Bark is rather chaotic. I’m confident that a number of tricks that went wrong during the show were not supposed to go wrong. I’m also confident that a number of tricks that “went wrong” during the show were scripted to do so. Piff’s skill is that you might not be able to successfully identify which is which – and, most importantly – it doesn’t matter.
I think Piff the Magic Dragon in … Jurassic Bark will keep on selling out. I think it’ll get better with each show as well. The venue is a good fit, larger than before to accommodate more fans, and yet still close and intimate enough for a rapport to build and the show to feel personal.
As with last year, Piff makes the effort to be available at the exit as people leave the venue. I think this is above and beyond and earns him an extra kudos.
One last thing, I didn’t buy one of the clever Piff the Magic Dragon t-shirts when I had the chance. This was a mistake. Fortunately you can buy them online.
Reviewed by Andrew Girdwood on , 2012.
Magic and mirth from a dragon and Mr Piffles the Chihiahua.
Piff the Magic Dragon is an unusual mix of comedy and magic. The slightly chaotic mix works very well and is well worth your time. Never work with animals – unless you’re wearing a dragon costume.
Rating: 4/5 Edinburgh Stars.