Pete Firman at The Corn Exchange, Newbury on Friday, March 2
IT’S less than 18 months since magician Pete Firman last visited The Corn Exchange, and you don’t need special powers to tell that his star has risen in that time - possibly even in the last few weeks, during which he has been a regular Saturday night visitor to our teleboxes as one of The Magicians.
Back in October 2010, I described part of Firman’s charm being his “dishevelled appearance” and “intentionally under-polished performance”. Well, things have certainly changed since then. He’s smartened up (a bit), his props are much glossier (his box of tricks now has a velvet fringe), and he’s got his very own support act (self-proclaimed geek Chris Stokes; very good). Firman himself has moved on with his on-stage character, from a mishap-prone geek who mixed cheesy jokes with snapshot lessons about the history of magic (I rather missed those), to a cod-ladies’ man with a twisted sense of humour.
However, while he may have gained some fame and fortune in recent months, his act isn’t all glitz and glamour; his way of selecting audience members to pick a card being to put the pack in a paint bucket dangled on a fishing rod - “maybe I should have removed the Homebase label”.
Quite a lot of Firman’s current Jiggery Pokery tour is cards and close-up based, and equipment he would benefit from would be a camera and big screen projector; much as the audience was blown away by the linked wedding rings trick, no one beyond the first few rows at The Corn Exchange could see for sure that they were the three actual rings taken from audience members.
“You’ve missed the tigers,” quipped Firman to some latecomers a few minutes’ into the show, and he again poked fun at showy gaudity, with a finale that saw him ironically prancing Vegas-style to Wet Wet Wet’s Sweet Little Mystery. Firman may not be the most gasp-inducing of magicians, but he has sense of comedy that makes him very watchable. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Firman reminds me of fellow Middlesbrough progeny Paul Daniels (and not just because of their shared accent). He‘ll like that... not lot, but he’ll like it.
- First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, March 8, 2012