I think this is my third year watching Magic Dragons at the Edinburgh Fringe. Piff has a certain style that would, at a glance, suggest it would be easy to second guess the magician and workout where he’s going with the trick. It’s a trick. This year there are extra catches and surprises that’ll catch out and amuse Piff veterans like myself.
If you’re not a Piff regular then the concept is this; Piff is a Magic Dragon with a Chihuahua assistant called Mr Piffles. This isn’t a kids show (16+). The magic is a very high calibre and this year Piff pushes his speciality-of-slight of hand even further with some teleportation tricks and even the classic swords through a box routine. I say “classic routine” but this, of course, is a modified and uniquely Piff style spell.
There’s lots of audience involvement in any Piff show. In fact, if you’re near the front of the queue (and expect a sold out show) then you might be one of 52 people who get to sign their name on a card. One of Piff’s rules – no stealing the pens. This is a dragon who counts his pennies. If you’ve signed a card then you’ll be doubly invested in the show as there’s that chance you’ll get picked at random and up on stage. Let’s just go with “random” without digging into the always interesting debate of exactly how magic works.
Combine these top quality tricks with the juxtaposition of a guy who appears to be approaching burn out and still forced to wear the dragon suit (I hope not, it’s part of the act, but his disappointed sighs are so practised these days) and you’ve certainly got an unique experience with Piff.
This year his unhappy assistant Amy Sunshine, who’s been with him as far as this reviewer can remember, has a larger part in the show. It’s not just that she has more of a speaking part and appears to assist with more of the tricks – this year Ms Sunshine gets to demonstrate some of her talent by making a trick work.
I enjoyed the show. I really did. Okay, I get that a lot of the time the magic goes wrong – it’s a thing that he does, and then the trick is to fix it. That’s the system that turns a grandiose setup into a clever twist at the end. This year we get exactly that but I’m excited that there’s more than just that this year, there are tricks that you think we’ll need a slight-of-hand to pull off but, surprisingly, don’t. I was fully expecting “No dog” to be used four out of four times in the “Dog or no dog” trick for example. I was wrong. When it comes to magic shows – I love being wrong.