Piff The Magic Dragon
Faux-grumpy yet fun magic show
This article is from 2013.
His glamorous assistant rolls her eyes whenever his back’s turned; his sidekick is a vacant chihuahua, stealing his limelight with a sleepy thousand-yard-stare; and the guest star is a mindreading goldfish who forgets his lines. In short, Piff the Magic Dragon (a grown man in a scaly onesie) is having a bad day.
In real life, John van der Put got tired of his job as a sleight-of-hand magician, grinning through after-dinner trickery, and needed a twist on his magic act. And so, Piff was born: a travelling entertainer whose spectrum of emotions flops between weary and depressed. His deliberately shonky illusions now come with added ennui and a humiliating upstaging from a costumed lapdog.
Piff is a cross between Neil Hamburger’s crowd-disgusted stand-up, and Paul Daniels’ ‘pick a card, any card!’ showmanship (if the latter had fallen on hard times and found himself working in a shopping centre). Although his frustration with audience members not answering fast enough sometimes seems unrehearsed, overall the lo-fi props and effects (cardboard boxes, joke-shop gadgets) work especially well for Piff’s tired, grumpy magic act.
Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 25 Aug, 7.10pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).