Paul Daniels has been performing internationally with The Intimate Magic Tour, offering a close-up illusion experience which promises: “you’ll never get closer”.
Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee open the evening in light humour, explaining that The Intimate Magic Tour purposefully differs from their previous performances which were often produced on a grand scale. The intention is closeness and intensity, without wagon loads of props or theatrical dressings. The evening is unscripted, the magic performed up close and personal.
Over two hours Paul and Debbie showcase a number of illusions, some classic, many new, all fascinating and performed in candour and close-up clarity. The illusions include card tricks, mesmerizing slight of hand, escapology, mindreading and most baffling of all, Daniels' infamous electric chair sequence. An extended piece taking up much of the second act, two audience members appear to be shocked and then locked into chairs in a beautifully constructed performance which builds in complexity, ending in an hilariously impressive piece of physical comedy.
Famous as Paul’s glittering assistant and wife, Debbie McGee (who hasn’t aged since the Eighties - now that’s magic) provides a number of tricks including a lesson in how to cheat at cards whilst showcasing a beautifully balletic trick with a balloon. Together Debbie and Paul strike a classy and cheeky act, with Daniels’ offhand and brusque remarks raising the roof with laughter. The show has attracted a diverse audience in terms of age, and Paul directs his performance with a comedic scope which resonates with everybody - something of a lost art these days in the world of variety.
Wholly engaged with his audience, Paul Daniels’ style is personal, dominating and energetically involved, drawing attention with a touch of the wizard’s theatrical hubris. Daniel’s inimitable technique is key to his success in this genre. There’s something of the common touch when it comes to working his crowd, which is kind yet slightly mocking and joshing, always controlling the focus and reminding more vocal hecklers that he tells the jokes. There’s also extraordinary warmth in his delivery, often reminiscing about his career or dropping nuggets from the history of magic into his routine.
As compact as The Intimate Magic Tour is, the gig retains the unmistakable flavour of The Paul Daniels Magic Show, which ran on BBC television from the Seventies into the Nineties and commanded record-breaking audiences. Paul and Debbie know how to build a series of small illusions into something which becomes far larger, resulting in an immersive experience which is light of touch but bold in its impact.
The Intimate Magic Show delivers on its promise and provides a closeness and engagement which is relaxed yet intense and on-the-nose. Daniels will forever be the elder statesman of illusion and any opportunity to see Britain’s master of magic should be swiped up without hesitation. The show feels effortlessly slick - all part of the illusion of course - bringing back the true essence of showmanship to theatre in an intimate space, which makes the experience all the more magical. Don’t miss out on this experience. You’ll all like it, a lot.
Originally published for Entertainment Focus.
Musings, arguments, reviews and projects within performing arts. Archived reviews from Entertainment-Focus.com. © Samuel Payne 2016