Reviewer: Matt Forrest
Losing out to a three-legged dog in what is essentially a seaside talent show that just happens to be broadcast on television. That’s the story of Jamie Raven: a magician and illusionist who wowed audiences in the 2015 series of Britain’s Got Talent, only to be gazumped in the final by Matisse the Dog, whose owner rather controversially used a stunt dog in the final: a plot not too dissimilar to the Christopher Nolan film, The Prestige…. I’m sure the irony wasn’t wasted on Raven. However, it may be Raven who is having the last laugh. He is currently on a nationwide tour showcasing his unique skills and dazzling audiences across the UK….and what became of Matisse? Who knows? Probably auditioning for a Cassius Marcellus Coolidge painting I guess.
Opening with a three-minute video charting Raven’s ‘journey’ on the over-produced Butlin’s style talent show that is BGT, Raven opens the show with a brief introduction explaining how his life has changed since his TV big break. From West End star of the show The Illusionist, through to signing a mega deal with Sky (£45 sport and films package no less), this is the perfect set up for a fun-filled and family friendly show. Raven performs a host of tricks which enthral and baffle in equal measure: stand out moments include a trick involving a mobile and the selecting of a random set of numbers that leads to a very specific date is truly jaw dropping. There is also a very modern take on the classic sawing someone in half trick, which as a family show never really lingers on the peril or danger.
Raven also addresses a rather controversial moment in his career, when several eagle-eyed BGT viewers claimed they spotted the secret behind his trick in the final: that of making a rolled up £5 into the centre of a lemon. For the purpose of today’s show, he uses an orange, no holes were present and he managed to bamboozle and thrill everyone in attendance.
A show like this relies heavily on audience participation and there was no shortage of willing volunteers. Raven’s humour and affable approach to those lucky enough to be selected instantly put them at ease, making for a more relaxed and pleasant viewing experience, it is just a pity that there weren’t more tricks for younger audience members to get involved in.
Raven manages to perform a variety of mind-blowing set pieces, regularly drawing huge cheers and gasps of amazement from younger and older audience members alike. Not every trick has that WOW factor but certainly all will leave you baffled and trying to figure out how it was performed… However, the main appeal of Raven is not his ability, more that he is a charismatic and likeable entertainer. There are a few jokes for the adults only, but this good solid family entertainment at its best.
Raven certainly proves that winning isn’t always everything and that if you do have real talent you can go far. Raven’s star is in the rise and one would advise catching him in a town near you.
Reviewed 20 November 2016 | Image: Contributed