Firman begins the show by pointing out how the relationship between magic and the magician’s audience has changed. Once sawing a woman in half would have impressed an audience (cue jokes about putting her back together) but now the audience knows what to expect.
The introduction quickly leads into a joke based around buying a chair from John Lewis.
The theme then, although never stated, is all about modern magic. Scoundrel is an act that’s designed to work with modern, savvy audiences.
What Firman does is mix magic with comedy. I suspect most magicians do, they certainly load plenty of banter into their act but Firman takes it a stage further. This is magical comedy.
Pete Firman is not an imposing figure but takes to the stage with confidence and authority. It’s not as straight forward as that, though. After all, the show is called “Scoundrel”. So while Firman projects the air of an established and well-practised magician there’s always room in the show for the feeling that things might go wrong.
It’s the idea that something might go wrong that helps appeal to the modern crowd. We have a feeling that we understand what’s supposed to happen. Firman’s task as a modern magician is to challenge that feeling and turn it to his advantage.
In fairness to the man from Middlesbrough he does exactly that. When you think you’ve worked it out – he’s ahead of you. He even uses a video camera to let the audience get up close to a card trick. I spent my time between watching the big screen and craning my neck to watch the live magic trick. I still didn’t catch the sleight of hand.
I’m not always sold on the style of banter Pete uses – there’s plenty of “friends!” and “fellows” in his chat – but at least it gives him a style he owns, something to associate him with.
In summary, as a fan of magic and of comedy, I was always going to be buying a ticket for Pete Firman – Scoundrel. As a fan, though, I wanted to be impressed, I wanted value for my money and that’s exactly what I got. Pete Firman is a magical hoot.