Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
The title, Trickster, sums up Pete Firman’s refreshingly unpretentious attitude towards his craft. Although he treats magic tricks with respect he doesn’t take them or himself too seriously. This is perfectly illustrated with a marvellous blend of humour and magic as Firman offers to perform a series of card tricks with his hands literally tied behind his back. After a suitable build up emphasising the impossibility of what he is to attempt Firman, in plain sight, simply slips in and out of the restraints with a casual ease all the time keeping up his patter and performing the card trick.
The lighthearted approach is surprising as Firman bases some of his tricks on mathematical and scientific principles. Trickster opens with Firman, on close circuit TV broadcast on screen, taking the audience through a series of moves designed to trace where he is hiding in the venue by mathematically eliminating options. Yet even when demonstrating that water will not spill from an upturned glass if the air pressure outside is greater than within Firman keeps up a steady stream of jokes and puns.
Several of the tricks are variations on classics such as The Human Ostrich when a collection of needles and twine are swallowed and regurgitated threaded together. A chair purchased in a sale changes position and even duplicates itself while in an ordinary cardboard box.
Some of the tricks seem better suited to TV than theatre. Card tricks are less effective when the audience cannot see the detail of the cards. Firman attempts to compensate by broadcasting the cards onto the theatre screen but it is one of the less successful sequences.
Some of the most puzzling tricks – in the sense of wondering just how they were achieved- are the shortest. Firman opens Act Two sketching a bowling ball only for the real thing to crash onto the floor seemingly from out of the picture. In a fine sleight of hand a newspaper is ripped to shreds then seamlessly stuck back together with a casual wave of the hand.
While offering to explain to the audience just how a trick is performed Firman actually demonstrates that changing the colour of a handkerchief is pretty much impossible.
Act Two features ‘ Middlesborough Roulette ‘ – Russian Roulette adapted for a safety conscious venue and performed using staple guns. Firman concludes his show with an apparently improvised routine that somewhere along the way evolves into a mind reading sequence. Freed from the confines of television Firman makes the dubious choice to appeal to a grown up audience by peppering his act with unnecessary profanities. A shame, as Trickster is otherwise perfect family entertainment.
Reviewed on 13th August 2014